Portage Indians Celebrate Road Trip With Central Invitational Title

Seven-Run Fifth Keys 7-2 Victory Over Cleveland Blue Raiders

Saturday, March 30, 2013 - by John Hunt

The Portage Indians made their long road trip from northern Indiana worthwhile after claiming victory in the annual Central Invitational baseball tournament that concluded at Central's Gene Lively Stadium Saturday night.

The Indians come from a small town about 30 miles south of Chicago.  When they left town on Wednesday, there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground.  While folks in the Chattanooga area have been complaining about the cooler-than-average beginning of spring, those folks from Portage must have felt like they were on a summer vacation.

The tournament started on Thursday at Central and Hixson and every game escaped the predicted rain except for the last one.

Tournament officials knew that rain was coming, so the start time was pushed up from the scheduled 7:30 start until 6.  Dark clouds started moving in about the time the first pitch was thrown and the rain had started to fall in the third inning.

It only got harder as the game progressed and umpires called it official after five innings with the Indiana visitors leading the Cleveland Blue Raiders by a 7-2 final.

"I'm glad we were able to get the game in, although it wasn't the best situation with the rain," said Portage coach Tim Pirowski after the game had been declared official.

"It was getting nasty out there, but I'm pleased with how we handled such an adverse situation.  We finally got some big hits and I thought C.J. (Haupt) did a good job in relief of throwing strikes.

"We won't get on the bus for that 10-hour trip until Sunday morning, but we'll just go back to the motel, get some pizza and celebrate winning this tournament," the coach concluded with a smile.

The Indians have done a lot of practicing indoors up to this point, but Thursday's game with Sheffield (Alabama) was their first of the season.  They added a win over Morristown on Friday morning before losing to Masters Academy (a team from the Orlando, Florida area) that night.

A win over the host Central Purple Pounders on Saturday afternoon put them in the championship game against the Blue Raiders.

Cleveland scored single runs in the first and second inning and were cruising right along until the Indians came up in the top of the fifth.

Sending a dozen hitters to the plate, Portage used five hits, three walks, one hit batter and a Cleveland error to score seven runs.

Haupt got things started by getting hit on a 1-2 count.  Sam Schest then dropped a near-perfect bunt, but the throw to first sailed into the right-field corner as Haupt scooted around to score the first run.

Patrick Derr's infield single plated Schest before Chris Klenk grounded to second for the first out of the inning.  Kevin Jones walked before Eric Masarch and Tyler Soberg ripped run-scoring doubles.  Peter Psomadelis drove in another with an infield single deep to short and he later scored the final run on a wild pitch.

By this point, puddles were forming behind first and third and the infield was beginning to get muddy.

Cleveland's Austin Dykes led off the Blue Raiders half of the fifth by reaching on an error by the Portage second baseman, but Haupt got Kimsey Bell to fly out to left before ending the game on a pair of strikeouts.

Cleveland coach Ted Carson would have liked for the game to have continued, but his plea fell on deaf ears.

"It's no worse now than when we were out there in the last inning, but we don't have control over that call.  We've had a great week and played a lot of really good baseball.  Too bad we had to get all of this rain before the game ended," he said matter of factly.

Bell had a one-out single in the first and scored on a single by Taylor Thompson.  Reed Allison walked with two outs in the second and scored on a throwing error by Portage starting pitcher Tyler Kniola.

The Blue Raiders got back-to-back hits from Michael Henderson and Jalen Lawson in the fourth, but Haupt ended that threat by getting a grounder to third for the second out and then a swinging strike from Ryan Adkins to end the inning.

Portage finished the abbreviated game with eight hits.  Derr was the only Indian with two.

Cleveland finished with five hits.

While the Indians head home on Sunday, they hope to play their first regular-season game on Tuesday.  Cleveland will play at Walker Valley on Monday in a key District 5-AAA game.

Portage is now 4-1 for the year while Saturday's loss leaves Cleveland at 8-9 overall.

Portage   000 07 -- 7 8 2

Cleveland  110 00 -- 2 5 1

Kniola, Haupt (3) and Klenk; Earle, Ramsey (4), Nichols (5) and Plumb.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


Lookouts' O'Koyea Dickson Named SL Hitter Of The Week

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Today the Southern League announced that Chattanooga Lookouts’ first baseman O’Koyea Dickson has been named the Southern League  Player of the Week for the period of July 21-27.  Dickson is the second Chattanooga Lookouts’ player to earn a weekly accolade from the league this season, outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker took home the award for the week of ... (click for more)

Ensworth Ranked No. 1 In Divison II-AA

If the 11 head coaches in Division II-AA know anything about their classification, this year’s BlueCross Bowl Division II-AA game will involve two midstate teams – Ensworth and Brentwood Academy. Both should field great teams but whether they both reach the finals has a lot to do with how the brackets are drawn up. Only time will tell what happens here. Here’s how Division ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)