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PCA pounds Tallulah, all but wraps up title

[04/11/01] TALLULAH, La. Porters Chapel Academy’s top pitcher and bottom hitter came up big as the Eagles beat archrival Tallulah, 14-0, Tuesday to virtually assure themselves of a conference championship.

Heath Smith struck out 10 in a five-inning one-hitter and No. 9 batter Dustin Abbott ripped a two-out, two-run triple in the second inning to help PCA pull away. In the second inning. T.J. Smith, who went 2-for-4, added a two-out, three-run homer in the fifth inning.

“We did some two-out hitting today, and that’s something we haven’t been doing,” said PCA coach Randy Wright, whose squad led 8-0 after two innings, all on runs scored with two outs. “You’ve got to love that.”

The Eagles (15-6, 5-1) have to beat Conference 7-A cellar dweller Briarfield Friday at PCA to wrap up the conference title. Tallulah (7-7, 4-3), which fell to PCA 4-1 in the first meeting of the season, has to beat River Oaks in Monroe, La., Friday to make the playoffs for the first time in the program’s five years.

“They just had good, timely hitting and we didn’t,” Tallulah coach Jackie Thames said. “We came out flat, and we got whipped.”

Heath Smith had a lot to do with the Trojans’ woes, both coaches said.

“He just came out and dominated another district team,” Wright said. “We’ve almost come to expect it.”

He retired the final seven batters, four on strikeouts, walked none and hit one batter. Jackie Thames’ two-out, third-inning double was the only hit he allowed.

“He’s really good pitcher,” Jackie Thames said of Smith. “It’s aamazing how he throws almost every game for them.”

Josh Copes took the loss after PCA touched him up for eight runs on four hits in the first three innings, Brent Newton gave up six runs on five hits in the final two innings.

Kyle Ehrhardt went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, designated hitter Josh Rush had a two-run double, Walter Bliss had a two-run single and Catfish Hensley went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Abbott also went 2-for-3, including the triple that turned a 5-0 lead into an 8-0 lead going into the third.

“Dustin really came up big for us today,” Wright said.

If the Eagles beat Briarfield and take the 7-A crown, they will earn a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

“I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” Wright said. “Maybe it would give us some time to rest, get our arms and legs back.”

PCA will play four-time defending state champion University Christian Saturday in Brandon.

“We played an extremely competitive schedule; the toughest since I’ve been here,” said Wright, who has been at PCA six seasons. “Hopefully, it prepared us for the playoffs.”