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PCA soars closer to state finals

[05/08/03] WINNSBORO, La. One day after rain postponed the start of the Academy-A South State championship series, Porters Chapel Academy provided a different kind of deluge.

PCA jumped out to a big early lead with a five-run second inning and cruised to a 10-1 win over Franklin in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.

The Eagles can advance to the Academy-A finals for the second time in three seasons with a win at home on Friday. Game 2 will begin at 4:30 p.m. at PCA, and Game 3, if necessary, will follow.

“It’s a good win, to come over here and win,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “We have to get back home and take care of business at home. By no means is this series over. We’re going to have to go back and play well. This team is very capable of beating us twice.”

Gerald Mims and Michael Shinn each drove in two runs for PCA, and Humphrey Barlow and Andrew Embry both homered.

Ryan Hoben scattered seven hits, walked three, and struck out five in a complete-game victory. He also helped his own cause with an RBI double in the second inning that started the scoring for PCA (26-2).

Barlow reached on an error to lead off the second and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Hoben then lined a shot down the left field line for a double and a 1-0 lead.

After walks to Wes Massey and Shinn loaded the bases, Mims pulled a ball just over the first base bag for a two-run single.

“We had the bases loaded, second inning, the score was tied, I think that’s pretty big. We’ve been doing that all year, a different person every time. It was my turn,” said Mims, who entered the game with a .259 average, lowest among PCA’s starters. “I haven’t been hitting very good this year. It was nice to break out of the slump.”

Shinn later scored on a wild pitch and Mims scored on a sacrifice fly by Chase Towne to increase the lead to 5-0 as PCA batted around in the inning.

“We wanted to come over here and get a lead early. We talked about coming over here and getting on them quick and getting them down early,” Wright said. “That was the game plan, and it happened to work tonight.”

Franklin starter Matt Doyle came in with a 9-1 record and a 1.35 ERA, but was shelled for six runs in two innings plus. He allowed four hits and walked three, and was pulled after giving up a leadoff home run to Barlow in the third.

“Obviously, it was a big difference-maker,” Franklin assistant coach Bill Marionneaux said of the Eagles’ big start. “A big inning against a good ballteam can put you in a hole. We put ourselves in a hole and they helped put us in the hole. I give them the credit, they did what they needed to do to win.”

Left-hander Miles Stevens replaced Doyle and kept the Eagles off-balance by throwing 10-15 mph slower than Doyle. He threw three shutout innings for Franklin and allowed only one hit until Embry touched him for a two-run homer in the top of the sixth.

Embry’s blast reawakened the Eagles and put the game on ice. They added two more runs on a single by Shinn in the seventh.

“That was big,” Wright said of Embry’s homer. “We were kind of going through the motions for three or four innings there, and he hit that rocket out of here … I think it put the exclamation point on the night.”

Despite the lopsided final score, Franklin had plenty of chances to cut into PCA’s lead. The Cougars had baserunners in every inning except the first, and left seven men in scoring position.

Franklin finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh, when Hunter White walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and then to third on an infield single by Blaise Sims, and finally scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Harris.

Doyle followed Harris with a base hit, but Hoben got Mark Liles to hit an easy grounder to short for the final out of the game.

“They seem to make the plays when they need to, and we don’t. When that happens, most times you lose,” Marionneaux said. “When you get baserunners on and don’t get timely hits, and they get baserunners on and get timely hits, it makes a big difference.”