(Photo by Chris Moore, Staff)
CHARLESTON - The Portageville Bulldogs opened up the 2007 baseball season with a 3-1 road win over the Charleston Bluejays at Hillhouse Park on Monday afternoon.
Cody Cook and Jerry Pikey combined to allow only three hits and struck out 11 Bluejay hitters for the Bulldogs. Cook started the contest and went four strong innings allowing only one run and struck out five. Pikey went three innings of hitless relief and struck out six Charleston batters.
"Pitching is usually ahead of hitting this time of year," said Portageville head coach Lee Wallace. "Cook and Pikey threw a lot of strikes today and that helped us out. Both had good mound presence."
Portageville got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning. Steven Fisher drew a walk from Charleston starter Brink Naile and was moved over by a solid single by Cook. After Pikey flied out, Ben Mayberry drove in Fisher with a one out single.
D.J. Birdwell of the Bulldogs singled with two outs and drove home Cook. Mayberry tried to score the third run of the inning for Portageville, but was thrown out at home by Charleston left fielder Paul Johnson.
Charleston trailed 2-0 through three innings and could only muster one hit against Cook, a single by Tyler McCann in the bottom of the third.
"We struggled at the plate," said Charleston head coach Michael Minner. "Give credit to their pitchers, they threw strikes and let their defense make plays behind them."
The Bluejays pushed across a run in the bottom of the fourth thanks in large part to a fielding error by the Bulldogs in the outfield. Johnson led off the fourth with a sharp single to right field. Birdwell let the ball go through his legs, which allowed Johnson to scramble all the way to third base.
Colin Gilooly grounded out to drive in Johnson on the next at-bat for the Bluejays. Charleston had two hits and Chase McClendon reached on an error in the fourth, but the 'Jays could not put any more runs on the board in the inning.
"The story of the game," said Minner, "was that they made plays and we didn't. Portageville got the timely hits to drive in runners and we didn't produce with runners on base."
The Bulldogs added a security run in the top of the sixth on a RBI-sacrifice fly by Brandon Dennison that drove in Fisher.
Charleston had two players reach base through walks in the sixth and seventh innings, but the Bluejays could not produce any runs and dropped their home opener, 3-1.
"We didn't throw strikes or field and that is what cost us," said Minner. "We will get back to work to correct some things. Overall, I was pleased with our performance from a young team. The guys will improve down the line."
Johnson, McCann and Tommy Starr all tallied singles for the Bluejays. Naile went 5 1/3 innings and gave up three hits, walked five and struck out eight.
Portageville had seven different players with a single apiece. Johnson, Birdwell and Pikey all had a stolen base, while Fisher scored two runs for the Bulldogs.
"I am happy for coach Minner," said Wallace, "they beat us in every aspect of the game except for the scoreboard. Charleston is a good team and they have a lot to be excited about."
Charleston (0-1) travels to East Prairie for the Eagles home opener on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Portageville (1-0) is in the midst of playing seven games in five days. Today, the Bulldogs travel to face the North Pemiscot Mustangs at 4 p.m.
Portageville 3, Charleston 1
|Portageville||020||001||0||-||3||7||2 Charleston||000||100||0||-||1||3||1 WP - Cody Cook LP - Brink Naile SV - Jerry Pikey|