Eagles can soar to championship tonight

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2003

Porters Chapel’s Aaron Curry connects on a double during a game earlier this season. Curry and the Eagles can bring home a state championship today with a win at Heidelberg Academy. The first game starts at 4:30 p.m. A deciding third game will be needed if Heidelberg wins the opener. (C. Todd ShermanThe Vicksburg Post)

Embry will take the hill tonight as Porters Chapel meets Rebels

[5/16/2003] As they wind their way down the highway to Heidelberg this afternoon, thoughts of postgame parties and championship rings will be dancing through the heads of the Porters Chapel Academy Eagles (28-2).

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All that stands between them and the school’s first baseball state championship is seven innings and one measly little win.

Forgive them, though, if they don’t make firm plans for those parties or place the ring orders just yet. After all, they’ve been here before.

PCA will face Heidelberg (26-2) in Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3, of the Academy-A championship series today beginning at 4:30 p.m. The Eagles hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series after winning Game 1 on Tuesday, 5-4.

It’s the same situation PCA was in two years ago, when it beat Heidelberg in Game 1 and was routed in the Friday doubleheader, 14-4 and 13-2. Memories of that series haven’t been far from PCA’s players this week, but they’re ready to put the past behind them and make some new ones today.

“It feels good, but like (PCA) coach (Randy Wright) said, 28 don’t mean nothing if you don’t get 29,” PCA left fielder Wes Massey said. “We’ve got to win one more game, and these boys can play. We’ve got to come to play.

“We can’t lay down at all.”

PCA will turn to senior left-hander Andrew Embry to close the door. Embry is one half of the Eagles’ dominating pitching duo, along with Game 1 winner Ryan Hoben, and has been nearly untouchable in the playoffs.

In two postseason starts, Embry (9-1) has allowed only two runs and seven hits in 14 innings. He has struck out 16 and walked only two.

“We are absolutely certain that this is not over,” Wright said, “but we feel great going down there with Andrew Embry on the mound and having an opportunity to win Game 2 and come back home with a state championship.”

Winning Game 2 would be important to the Eagles’ title hopes, Wright added. Heidelberg has been a run-scoring machine this season and has hit 61 home runs, making the Rebels a force to be reckoned with in a one-game, do-or-die situation.

“We definitely want to win the first game,” Wright said. “We want to go down there, take care of business and we’d like to come home state champions.”

Heidelberg’s hitting prowess, as well as the comeback two years ago, lets the Rebels know another sweep is possible. Only two players from 2001, Ryan Aultman and Brooks Lewis, were starters on that team, but they are the starting pitcher and catcher.

Aultman (8-0) is expected to be the starting pitcher for the Rebels in Game 2. Lewis, who threw Game 1 and could see some time on the mound today, threw both games of the deciding doubleheader two years ago.

“We’ve got a big job to do now, and they’ve got all the confidence in the world now. And they should,” Heidelberg coach Tom Lewis said. “They’ve got a great team and they know they can beat us. We’ve got a big task at hand. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

If you go

4:30 p.m. – Porters Chapel (28-2) at Heidelberg (26-2)

Admission: $4

Note: A second game will follow if Heidelberg wins the first game