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White goes from goat to hero with 8th-inning homer

[05/16/01] One swing was all it took for Trey White to turn one of the worst nights of his long career at Porters Chapel Academy into the best.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, White bounced back from an 0-for-4, three-strikeout performance and hit the game-winning home run to beat Heidelberg 8-7 and put PCA within one win of its first Academy-A state championship.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was out,” said White, who hadn’t made good contact all night. “It was a hanging curve. He struck me out on a hanging curve before … I was ready for it this time.”

White, who had been one of PCA’s toughest outs throughout the playoffs, went down swinging in the first, fourth and seventh innings. Each time, there were two men on base.

“I felt like I had let the team down,” said White, who whiffed for the first out of the seventh inning.

When he returned to the dugout, he kicked the wall.

“I was pretty angry,” he said.

PCA coach Randy Wright said he never considered using a pinch-hitter for his senior cleanup batter, who came in with four homers on the year.

“He’s our clutch guy,” Wright said. “He looked so bad in his other at-bats … but I knew he was capable of it. I’m really proud for the kid.

“He’s been here with me for six years. We’ve walked a lot of miles together.”

Catfish Hensley set the stage for White’s heroics by hitting a one-out, two-run double to make it 7-7 in the seventh inning.

Just as big was a defensive play in the top of the eighth. After Blake Bass led off with a double to right field, PCA catcher Walter Bliss pulled in Heath Ainsworth’s popped-up bunt attempt, then fired to second for a double play.

After two quick infield popups gave PCA two outs in the bottom of the eighth, White said he got a little advice from a football guy, Delta State punter John Weaver, who starred at Warren Central and Hinds Community College.

“He told me You’ve been doing this since you were in eighth grade just go up there and hit a home run and end it,’ ” White said.

The Eagles did have “a sense of urgency” to get it over with, White said. Hot-hitting Heidelberg had been getting to PCA ace Heath Smith.

“He couldn’t keep throwing forever,” White said. “He had thrown 160 pitches.”

Smith is the only PCA pitcher who has been effective in the playoffs. He struck out 11, walked five and allowed a season-high 14 hits.

Still, he got out of jams all night. In Heidelberg’s only big inning, the four-run fourth, he was one strike from getting out of the inning unscathed when an outfield error opened the floodgates.

“I told the guys that our ace had done his job,” Wright said. “I said that we needed to go out there and put an end to it.

“They hit him better than anyone has all year. They’re a great hitting team.”

With someone else on the mound for Game 2, the players expect an even higher scoring game.

“We’ve got to go get ready to be in a war,” White said. “Tonight was a battle, but the battle’s not over. We won the game, but we haven’t won the war. And I think everybody here knows that.”