Eagles come alive late to down Franklin, 5-2

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Justin Boler, right, congratulates Porters Chapel Academy pitcher Ryan Hoben after the Eagles defeated Franklin, 5-2. (Jenny SevcikThe Vicksburg Post)

[3/24/04]Porters Chapel found itself in unfamiliar territory losing late in the game.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, time was running out for the undefeated Eagles against Academy 6A rival Franklin. But as they have all season, the Eagles responded to the challenge.

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Ryan Hoben blasted a two-run home run that ignited a four-run inning as PCA came back to defeat Franklin 5-2 on Tuesday.

“I felt it before I walked up there,” Hoben said. “I knew something good was going to happen.”

Hoben also went the distance on the mound, scattering seven hits and allowing two runs with a walk and five strikeouts.

The Eagles (12-0) were held under 10 runs for the first time this season as they struggled to hit Franklin pitcher Matt Doyle, who took the loss. Doyle allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings on three hits with six walks and two strikeouts.

Porters Chapel had only five hits four in the sixth inning.

“I don’t feel like we played our best game, but we fought and we scratched and we did what it took to win the ballgame,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “It’s a big win for us. This is a team that we’re going to have to beat again for a district championship, and probably again for a South State championship.”

Franklin (14-4) built its lead early.

Leadoff hitter Hunter White singled to begin the game, and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Blaise Sims then grounded out to shortstop to bring him in for a 1-0 advantage.

Franklin added one more in the third inning when White scored on a double to the left field wall by Sims.

Hoben, who looked shaky at first, eventually settled down to keep the Eagles close.

“Usually that’s how it happens,” Hoben said. “I just need to get in a groove earlier from now on.”

He got out of a jam in the top of the fourth inning as Franklin loaded the bases with one out. Hoben struck out Drew Wiggers and coaxed a fly ball to left field to end the threat.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Wright said. “We were absolutely frustrated. We come out here to win every time we play, and we don’t like being behind.”

In the sixth, the Eagles’ bats finally woke up. Gain reached on a walk and Hoben followed with a monstrous shot well past the 350-foot mark in center field for a 3-2 PCA lead. PCA added two more for the deciding margin.

“I’m really proud of our kids for battling the whole game,” Wright said. “The sign of a champion is to win games even when you don’t play your best game. And I don’t think we played anywhere near our best game tonight, but we figured out a way to win.”