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PCA one win away from state championship

[05/09/01] Trey White’s hitting and Huntington’s fielding helped push Porters Chapel Academy within one win of its first state championship series since 1975.

White went 3-for-3 with a double, RBI and two runs scored, and had a hand in triggering three PCA rallies to key a 6-4 win in the opening game of the South State championship series Tuesday night. Huntington also made two crucial errors that helped the Eagles erase a 3-0 deficit and later add an insurance run.

“I came up there and knew I’d been swinging the bat well in practice and in the cage,” White said. “I knew if I kept swinging well, it would come up in a game, and I got to come up in some key situations and help the team.”

Clayton Hensley went 2-for-3 with a home run and Jeremiah Riggs went 2-for-3 with an RBI single for PCA, which can clinch its first trip to the state finals in 26 years with one win Friday at Huntington. Game 2 will begin at 4:30 p.m., and Game 3, if necessary, will follow.

“We know it’s going to be a hostile environment. We’re going to have to play our best game to win,” White said. “If we don’t bring our A game,’ we’re going to be in trouble.”

PCA (20-10) survived the worst outing of the year by ace Heath Smith (10-1) on Tuesday.

Smith, who had given up only eight earned runs all season, was tagged for four on five hits on Tuesday. He also walked one, hit a batter and struck out five.

Three runs came on a first-inning homer by Huntington (22-6) center fielder Toby Wilson that gave the Hounds a 3-0 lead.

“I didn’t have my best fastball,” Smith said. “I didn’t have the juice I usually have on it, and I didn’t control my curveball. I was leaving it high.”

The rest of the Eagles covered Smith’s back with an early rally, however.

Kyle Ehrhardt led off the bottom of the first with a walk and Walter Bliss delivered a one-out double to put runners at second and third for White. White delivered a single to score one run and move courtesy runner Joseph Ivey to third. When White tried to advance to second, Huntington catcher Luke Davis’ throw sailed into center field and rolled to the fence.

Ivey scored from third and White easily rounded the bases to tie the game at 3-3. Hensley followed with a solo homer to left center to put PCA ahead 4-3, and the Eagles never lost the lead.

“That took all the momentum they had gained in the first right back,” said PCA coach Randy Wright, who earned his 100th win at the school.

White led off the third with a double and scored on Riggs’ RBI single to make it 5-3. In the fifth, White came through with a one-out single and was pinch-run for by Eric Abbott.

Hensley followed with a single that was misplayed by Huntington left fielder Wyatt Kemp, allowing Abbott to score from first for a 6-3 lead.

“In 12-year-old baseball, you’re supposed to be able to do that,” said Huntington coach Michael McAnally, referring to his team’s inability to make plays. “We’re in the state semifinals and we didn’t do it.”

Still, the Hounds had opportunities to come back. They had two runners on base in the third, fifth and six innings, but managed only one more run, on a sixth-inning RBI fielder’s choice by Kemp.

Smith retired the next five batters to finish the game and give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

“Four hits on the night that pretty much tells the story. They hit the ball and we didn’t,” McAnally said.

“We didn’t hit our spots, and they hit our mistakes.”