PORTAGE | Take away Wednesday afternoon’s first inning, and Times No. 4 Portage escapes with a 4-2 come-from-behind win over Crown Point.
Eight runs in the top of the first, however, led the Bulldogs to a big upset win on the road. Crown Point sent 12 batters to the plate in the opening frame and took advantage of five hits, three walks and an error to pave the way for a 10-4 Duneland Athletic Conference victory over the Indians.
The Bulldogs scored all eight runs off of Portage starter Kevin Jones, who had led Portage to a sectional championship last season on the mound against Crown Point.
Jones lasted just two-thirds of an inning Wednesday, allowing five hits, three walks and two wild pitches. An early Portage error meant only five of the runs were earned.
“We were looking forward to seeing Kevin Jones,” Crown Point coach Steve Strayer said. “I think he probably didn’t hit the spots like he wanted to, and we took advantage of it. We hit a couple of balls in between fielders and got things going our way, so we got a few breaks in that inning, got some walks. What I’m probably most proud of that inning is us getting those walks and making good decisions at the plate.”
After Jones left the game, Hunter Kraynak took over. The change from the 85 miles per hour heat of Jones to the low-70s stuff of Kraynak kept the Bulldogs off balance, and Kraynak allowed just two runs the remainder of the game.
“They brought a completely different type of pitcher in, and we didn’t do so hot,” Strayer said. “It took us awhile to get some runs off him, but overall I was very happy with our approach at the plate. (Against) a good team like Portage, it was nice to have those eight runs in the first inning.”
Crown Point's Jake Kocher picked up his third win of the season, tossing five innings of three-hit, one-run ball with four strikeouts.
“Jake was hitting his spots,” Strayer said. “He kept them off-balance and it seemed like even when things didn’t go his way … he just kept his composure on the mound. He keeps his composure and he stays steady. That’s why he’s so successful.”
Portage staged a mini-rally in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs on two hits and three Crown Point errors.
“We did that (Tuesday) night, too; we gave up a run from defensive mistakes,” Strayer said.” We’ve go to shore up those defensive mistakes. We want to be good and we want to have a chance to make a run at the Duneland Conference title and maybe make a run at a sectional. We’re going to have to shore up those things. We’ve got some things to work on.”