GARY | The jitters of his first varsity start behind him, Portage sophomore Jacob Dickson took the mound much more relaxed Friday, even if it was at the U.S. Steel Yard.
"I pitched here during Little League all-stars," Dickson said. "It's a nice mound. I was very comfortable. I wasn't so nervous as I was the last time. I could just go out and pitch."
Hung with the loss last week against Hanover Central, Dickson (1-1) sailed through five innings against Clark, yielding just two hits while connecting for three of his own in an 18-hit barrage that carried Times No. 4 Portage to a 20-0 romp.
"I'm glad to get my first win. I'll always remember this," Dickson said. "Once I got my first hit, I knew it was going to be a good game. I was looking for a first-pitch strike (at the plate). Coach (Bob) Dixon told me to keep my front foot down."
Dickson doubled twice in a seven-run second inning that put Portage up 10-0, then singled and scored in the fourth. He didn't allow a Pioneer past second base.
"We're still working on some things to try to get his mechanics right before the Duneland starts next week," coach Tim Pirowski said. "He did a better job of throwing first-pitch strikes. He battled. A lot of at-bats he fell behind, he evened the count up. He's young. He's got a high ceiling. Once he learns to relax, he'll do very well, play a pitch at a time, not worry about the last pitch...move forward."
Portage jumped on Clark starter Dillon Slowiak immediately with leadoff man Chris Klenk tripling to center. Sam Schest singled him in and the hit parade was on. All 18 Indians in uniform batted at least once with Braden Majewski also notching two hits in an inning with a single and triple in the fifth. Portage sent 12 hitters to the plate in the second and 13 in the fourth. It has scored 40 runs in its last three games.
"It was nice to see the back-ups get in and hit the ball and make plays for us," Pirowski said. "It's good to get everybody in. I've really been happy with our approach at the plate. They seem to have a plan. They're not trying to pull the ball. They're hitting it in the gaps and up the middle."
Clark (1-2) didn't help its cause, committing six errors.
"We knew coming in here we'd have to play our best game ever just to compete with these guys, to go seven innings," Pioneers coach Justin Ochall said. "We don't have a lot of strong pitching. We were just over-matched. I wish we could play an easier team."