By Mari Erin Roth
The Tigers were to host the Volcanoes in Portola on March 11, but since the snow wasn’t quite finished with the PHS diamond, the first in-county game took place in Chester. No scoring took place in the first inning as the teams evaluated skills and tested the limits.
At the top of the second inning, CHS senior Juan “JP” Flores fired a pitch to the Portola senior pitcher that had been causing so much trouble for the Vols, lefthander Jackson Powell. The Tiger pitcher took a hefty swing off JP’s pitch and knocked the ball way out in left field, a tremendous hit that looked like it was headed for the other side of the fence. Volcano freshman Kooper “Koop” Clark had another idea in mind and snagged the ball right out of the air. When one is good, two is better. The next Tiger up to bat was Michael Stewart who again hit deep into left field. Koop caught that fly, too. JP struck out batter number three for the third out and wiped the dust off, no runs for the Tigers. The teams continued to evaluate each other’s talent through the second inning, neither allowing a single mark on the scoreboard.
Everyone was plenty warm by the top of the third inning and that’s when things really heated up. The Tigers were first on the scoreboard, slow and steady they racked up two runs. The sun was shining bright warming the backs of fans packed into the stands, but a cloud came over the Volcano field as the Tigers loaded the bases with just one out on the board. PHS scored a run on a walk, 3-0. The Tigers picked up a fourth run on an inside fly and then the Vols said time’s up and put the Portola boys back in the field, 4-0 heading into the bottom of the 3rd inning. The Tigers used their lead to introduce a new pitcher on the mound, freshman Emery Powell, Jackson Powell’s younger brother.
The Volcanoes loaded up the bases and CHS sophomore Jaxon Holland hit a single that brought two anxious Volcanoes across the Chester home plate, putting CHS on the board, 4-2. Greenville transplant junior Conner Barr hit a double to tie it up 4-4! JP Flores hit in the next runner in from second, 5-4. Bases were loaded again for Chester. Koop hit a single 2-run RBI. “That’s the best hit you can get!” said Volcano Assistant Coach George Wellman. CHS pinch runner junior Haven Chase stole home for the end inning score of 7-4 in the bottom of the 3rd.
The Tigers picked up 2 runs as Tanner Carr turned his double into a triple by stealing third base, 7-5. Tiger pitcher Jackson Powell brought in another run with a sacrifice fly, 6-7, narrowing the gap for Portola. The bases were loaded for PHS with 2 outs. Freshman Magnus Berg hit an RBI for the tying run. Tiger Bradley Silvia tried to score the leading run for PHS but caught out at home plate. Fans were on the edge of their seats at the bottom of the 4th with the tied score, 7-7. New to the Chester team, Greenville ball player, Wade Neer was first up and hit a double for the Volcanoes. PHS took a timeout and brought up pitcher number three for the Tigers, senior Cade Wilmer, and it worked. No runs were scored for Chester in the bottom of the fourth.
The Volcanoes started the fifth inning by presenting their second pitcher for the game, fly-catching Kooper Clark. Koop had the Tigers with two outs and but the bases were loaded. PHS pitcher Cade Wilmer hit in two runners on a single fly ball to right field. Tiger Berg stepped to the plate and got on first with a walk. The bases were loaded again, 11-7. PHS Bradley Silva got hit by a pitch and walked to first, scoring a run for Portola. CHS sophomore Lucas Klimek took the mound as the third pitcher for Chester.
The score was 12-7 when the Volcanoes came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Juan Flores stepped up to bat as the first Volcano in the order and wham! knocked it OUT of the park, home run for Chester, 8-12. It was a fine example, but that was the only run scored by the Volcanoes in the 5th inning.
The Tigers came to bat in the top of the sixth with a 4-run lead. Having scored well in the previous three innings, it came as quite a shock when the Volcanoes drew a hard fire line around the scoreboard and the Tigers walked off the field with zilch, but of course, still with a good lead.
The Volcanoes used that full head of steam to score 6 monster runs in the sixth inning to take the lead by 2 runs before turning the bats over to Portola, 14-12. With the lead firmly in their grips, the Vols held the Tigers to another zero-run inning to win the game on their home field.
“A win is a win!” said CHS head baseball coach Mike Klimek. “ We at times played brilliantly, at times not so much. The positive moment(s) we reinforce and work hard next week to improve where we need to.” It was a game well played by both teams. The match between opposite ends of the County was terrific for the fans, who were held in suspense until the very end. “I was proud of the way my guys competed,” said returning Portola head baseball coach Tim Brubaker. “The bats are starting to come around. We just need to clean up some things and we will be fine.”
The Chester boys are very intentional about embracing the Greenville players on the Volcano team. Since they are a blended Chester and Greenville team, Coach Klimek came up with a special cheer for the team to end the game. “Enjoy the weekend gentlemen!” said Klimek. “All hands in, on three, … 1-2-3, Family!”
Game stats: Chester 14, Portola 12
Chester runs were scored by Juan Flores (3), Kooper Clark (2), Lucas Klimek (2), Jaxon Holland (2), Wade Neer (2), Conner Barr, Zack Brent, and Haven Chase.
RBIs were hit by Holland (3), Flores (2), Barr (2), Kooper Clark, Cayleb Clark, Zack Brent, and Neer.
Pitchers were: Flores for 4 innings striking out 2 batters and two bases stolen; Klimek pitched 2.1 innings striking out 5 batters and no bases stolen, and Kooper Clark pitching .2 innings striking out 1 batter and two bases stolen. Logan Oswald served as catcher the entire game. Neer and Klimek stole two bases, Cayleb Clark and Holland each stole one.
Portola runs were scored by Sean Sheridan (3), Tanner Carr (2), Cody Wilmer (2), Jackson Powell (2), Emery Powell (2), and Chris Balan.
RBIs were hit by Cade Wilmer (3), Carr (2), Stewart (2), Jackson Powell (2), Magnus Berg, and Bradley Silva.
Pitchers were: Jackson Powell for 2 innings striking out 1 batter with no stolen bases, Cade Wilmer for 1.2 innings striking out one batter with one base stolen, Cody Wilmer for 1.1 innings with two bases stolen, and Emery Powell for 1 inning striking out 2 batters with no bases stolen. Michael Stewart served as catcher for the entire game. Stewart, Cody Wilmer, and Emery Powell all stole a base.