(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Pumping out 12 hits, seven for extra bases, the Charleston Bluejays got their season rolling Monday evening with a 14-4 mercy-rule win over visiting Portageville.
"We came out and for about every run we gave up we (scored) two or three to pick that one up," Charleston's Ethan Browning said. "When you're swinging the bats like that it's pretty fun."
Leading 4-1 after three innings of play, the Bluejays offense came alive in the final three innings, scoring nine runs combined in the fourth and fifth frames to leave the Charleston up 13-4 entering the sixth.
Following a scoreless top half by the Bulldogs, Marshall Stallings got things going for the Bluejays in the bottom of the inning with a two out single to right before moving over to second on a James Naile walk.
After advancing to third on a passed ball with Browning at the plate, Stallings safely crossed the plate to end the game when Browning hit a misplayed grounder to short.
"Portageville's a good team," Charleston's Danny McKinney said. "It feels good to come out here and rack up some runs like that."
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, it was Browning starting things off for the Bluejays, hitting a two run shot to left center field that easily cleared the fence.
"He hit it right in the gap," Bluejays' coach Michael Minner said. "I didn't think it was going to be high enough to get out, but it got out by plenty.
"That's probably the hardest ball I've seen hit here.
Charleston was able to add one more run in the frame to leave the first up 3-1.
Going five innings, starter Naile picked up the win for Charleston, allowing four runs on four hits while striking out 13.
"What a tremendous job by Nail," Minner said. "Just a good performance on opening day. We probably went one inning too long with him, just for opening day purposes.
"He wound up throwing about 74, 75 pitches."
On offense, the Bluejays were led by McKinney and Stallings who both collected three hits on the game. Hitting leadoff, Stallings collected three singles while cleanup hitter McKinney hit two doubles and triple.
Crediting a strong preseason, McKinney was glad to see the team's extra time in the cage pay off.
"We've really been working," he said. "We got out before anybody else and were hitting and hitting. That's what (coach) Minner really wanted us to do this year and we've done a really good job if it."
For Portageville, starter Ethan White took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in three full frames.
On a evening where Portageville (0-2) produced four hits, third baseman Hunter Ivie led the Bulldogs, going 2 for 3 with a double.
"We're just bitten right now by an injury bug and not one of them has happened at practice or on a diamond," Portageville coach Lee Wallace said of his team's early season struggles. "We have four key athletes with big time issues. We're starting three freshman and we're just going to have to take our lumps.
"We're going to have to play through some tough times and hopefully we kind of ride it out and have a chance toward tournament time."
Portageville 100 120 - 4
Charleston 301 451 - 14
WP -- James Naile (1-0). LP -- Ethan White (0-1). Multiple hitters -- (P): Hunter Ivie 2-3. (C) Marshall Stallings 2-3, Ethan Browning 2-3, Danny McKinney 3-3. 2B -- (P) Caden Robbins, Ivie, Bryce Wallace; (C) Naile, McKinney 2, Kamari Allmon. 3B -- (C) McKinney, Trey Watkins. HR -- (C) Browning.