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Hoben records win in first start, Eagles win fifth straight

T.J. Smith of Porters Chapel slides safely into second as the throw from the catcher sails over the glove of Central Hinds’ Taylor Mellon on Thursday. The Eagles won, 7-4. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/16/01] Ryan Hoben learned 30 minutes before Thursday’s matchup with Academy-AAA Central Hinds that he would be starting his first game ever as a pitcher.

The freshman responded with the poise of a senior, scattering seven hits in five innings to lead Porters Chapel (5-3) to a 7-4 win over the Cougars.

“I just went out there and played ball and had fun,” said Hoben, a freshman who was starting in place of Heath Smith, who was sick but came on to earn the save.

With PCA leading 4-2 in the top of the sixth, Central Hinds’ Mark Long singled and Brian Martin reached on an error. PCA coach Randy Wright brought in the hard-throwing Smith, who got the next two batters out. Jason Gott, however, peppered a double into right centerfield to score two runs and pull CHA to within 5-4.

“I had intentions of letting (Hoben) finish the game if he could, but I had Heath ready to go if need-be,” Wright said.

Smith got Daniel Stubbs to strike out to end the Cougars’ rally.

Then Smith’s bat did the most damage.

His one-out, two-RBI double in the bottom of the inning scored Jeremiah Riggs and Dustin Abbott to give PCA a three-run cushion.

“That was a huge hit,” Wright said.

“I think that pretty much took all the wind out of their sails and put the nail in the coffin when he came up with the big double.”

Kyle Ehrhardt laced a pair of singles and had an RBI, while Trey White had a single, double and two RBIs to lead the Eagles’ offense. Andrew Embry also had a double in the win.

Justin Messina had a pair of singles and an RBI and pitcher Matt Sykes, who took the loss, had a double for the Cougars (0-4).

“We just tried to give them a little more of a challenge than we did the other day,” said Central Hinds coach Chris Perritt, whose team lost to PCA on Tuesday, 10-1. “(Porters Chapel) has a good team, though. They have a lot of solid hitters.”

Trailing 1-0 going into the bottom of the second, the Eagles took the lead for good on RBI singles by Abbott and Ehrhardt. Clayton Hensley also scored on an error for a 3-0 lead.

Messina’s RBI single in the top of the fifth got Central Hinds within 3-2, but Porters Chapel added a pair in the bottom of the inning on White’s double for a 5-3 lead.

“They have a good ballclub and they are very solid,” Wright said. “They put a pitcher on the mound today that threw strikes and they didn’t make many errors.

“It was a good high school ballgame and I’m glad to see us come out on top.”

The Eagles were scheduled to play Pine Hills in the Copiah Academy Tournament Friday at 3:30.