Despite losing many key players due to graduation last season, the four-time defending district champion Panthers still hold a high standard on the diamond.
The young Portagers jumped to an early 4-0 lead in Thursday’s opener, but Frankfort’s reputation kicked in during the fourth. The 10-run frame sparked a 15-8 win over Onekama before the Panthers swept the series with a 6-1 nightcap victory that was called after four innings due to darkness.
“(Mike) Zimmerman’s one of the best coaches around, and I know they graduated a lot, but they’re reloading,” Portagers coach John Neph said of Frankfort. “They’re always a good team.”
Despite a solid start, Onekama (0-2) was bit by long innings it couldn’t seem to get out of.
“It was the classic ‘make a mistake and they capitalize’ sort of the thing happening for us tonight,” Neph said. “Make no mistake about it, Frankfort hit the ball. But when we had chances to get out of the inning, we didn’t always capitalize.”
The Portagers’ Joe Eno sparked the team at the plate batting 2-for-2 including a triple in the opener with an RBI and four runs scored. Stephen Verrett and Morgan Ledford each had two hits with an RBI.
Onekama scored a run apiece in the first two innings and plated a pair in the bottom of the third.
“You can use that as a confidence builder,” Neph said of the solid start. “I mean, we can look at that and realize that we played well for a while. We just have to sustain that and do less of the other things.”
The Portagers’ starting pitcher Nolan Miller threw 3 1/3 innings before being relieved by Dallas Hearit during Frankfort’s big fourth inning. Miller finished the night with five strikeouts while allowing three earned runs on four hits.