Defending AAAA champs throttle PCA

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2001

[03/09/01] For the third time in four nights, the Porters Chapel Academy Eagles tangled with the big boys and came up short.

Jason Horton went 3-for-4 with three singles and three RBIs, and Tyler James allowed only one run and three hits while striking out 11 in six innings to lead defending Academy-AAAA champion Hillcrest (3-0) to a 12-1 win over PCA (0-3) Thursday night.

It was the third loss this week to a higher-class team for PCA, which also lost to AAA squads Riverfield on Monday and Adams County Christian on Tuesday.

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“We’re just in a funk at the plate right now and not hitting the ball at all,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “The pitcher we saw Tuesday night, we might not have hit him on our best day. But this kid tonight, we could have hit. And we had a couple of good at-bats, but we’re striking out too much … We’re in a little bit of a slump, and sooner or later we’re going to come out of it.”

Kyle Ehrhardt accounted for PCA’s only run with a solo homer in the bottom of the third inning, his second in two games.

“The schedule is designed to help us, and it’s helping us. We’re not seeing rinky-dink pitchers like we saw last year … It’s not fun losing, but it’s definitely helping us,” said PCA first baseman Andrew Embry.

More troubling than the losses for the Eagles is the way they’ve lost. Despite an outstanding, nine-inning pitchers’ duel against ACCS, PCA has managed only nine hits, committed 10 errors and scored three runs in the three losses. As a team, the Eagles are hitting just .120.

“I don’t think we’re having fun anymore. I think we’re going out there and we’re pressing too hard. I mean, we know we can play with these teams, but we’re just not into the ballgame. We’re making mental errors,” said PCA’s Trey White, who started and struck out six in four innings, but took the loss. He also had a double in the second inning.

The Eagles will finally catch a break on Saturday when they face their first class A team of the season, Rebul Academy, at home at noon. White said the game was coming at just the right time.

“It’s going to be really to nice to play a single-A school and take out some of this frustration we’ve been having,” White said.

Against No. 2 Hillcrest, the Eagles’ miscues hurt them early and often.

Hillcrest leadoff hitter Jordon Ferguson doubled to start the game and scored on a dropped third strike and throwing error to the next hitter, Brad Grice. Grice ended up at third on the play and scored on a groundout by Stephen Head. Horton followed with an RBI single to score Ole Miss signee Seth Smith, who had walked, giving the Cougars a 3-0 lead.

Another error in the second inning scored Hillcrest third baseman Matt Wiggs to make it 4-0, and Horton delivered a two-out, two-run single to extend the lead to 6-0.

“I think any time you play on the road you want to jump out first. I was happy we scored one, and we were fortunate enough to scratch out a few more runs that inning. That’s big, getting up ahead early,” HC coach Paul Wyczawski said.

Ehrhardt’s homer in the third cut it to 6-1, but James retired 11 of the last 13 hitters.