Eagles beat defending champions in 11-inning thriller

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2003

If Porters Chapel Academy is to win a state championship this season, it can do so knowing it took down the king of Academy-A baseball in a classic.

PCA squandered two one-run leads and threw out two Deer Creek runners at the plate after the sixth inning, got an incredible pitching performance from Andrew Embry, and beat the defending state champions 4-3 in 11 innings Thursday.

Aaron Curry had two hits and drove in three runs for PCA, and singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th. Chase Towne, Josh Rush, and Michael Shinn also had two hits apiece for PCA (19-2, 10-0).

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

Brett Boykin was 3-for-5 for Deer Creek, and Billy Carpenter had two hits, including an RBI single.

“It was an exciting game to watch as a fan, I’m sure. It was one of those games as a coach that makes you sick, turns your stomach, and gives you gray hair,” PCA coach Randy Wright.

Embry and Carpenter matched each other pitch-for-pitch the entire way. Both hurlers went all 11 innings, with Embry allowing eight hits and striking out nine, and Carpenter giving up 11 hits while collecting 11 strikeouts.

“(Embry) threw more pitches in a seven-inning game against Greenville Christian last Friday than he did last night. His pitch count was real low, but I told him the 11th inning was his last inning,” Wright said of the long outing for Embry.

The drama started in the bottom of the seventh, after PCA took a 2-1 lead on Shinn’s RBI single in the top of the inning.

Embry got the first two Deer Creek hitters out, then allowed a single to Boykin and a walk to Mike Banchetti. Carpenter followed with a single to score Boykin and tie the game, but was caught in a rundown between first and second.

As Banchetti tried to score, Curry wheeled around and fired home to throw him out and end the inning.

PCA took a 3-2 lead in the ninth when Wes Massey scored on a two-out error, but again the Eagles let Deer Creek survive in the bottom of the inning.

Deer Creek’s Clarke Trotter reached on an error and went to second on Boykin’s one-out single. Banchetti followed with a grounder to short, but the potential double play ball was thrown into right field.

Trotter scored the tying run, and Boykin rounded third as the ball rolled down the right field line. PCA’s Gerald Mims saved the day, though, with a strike to home to throw out Boykin.

“Every inning, in the extra innings, we’d make errors and let them score a run,” Wright said.

The Eagles appeared to take the lead again in the 10th, when Josh Rush scored from third on a fly ball by Massey. Umpires ruled that Rush left too soon, though, and it turned into an inning-ending double play.

“I thought it was a good call. I did not even argue it. I thought he left early,” Wright said.

Curry came through for the Eagles again in the 11th, delivering an RBI single to score Chip Lofton and put PCA ahead 4-3.

Deer Creek threatened again in the bottom of the inning, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Embry got an easy grounder to second, though, to end the game, and the Eagles moved into the driver’s seat for their second straight conference championship.

If PCA can beat Humphreys at home tonight, it can clinch a playoff spot and all but wrap up its second straight conference title. Deer Creek, Humphreys, and Franklin all have three losses in the conference, and PCA has four games left including tonight’s.

“We’re getting there. We need to win today,” Wright said. “We get this one today, I feel pretty good about things.”