Hillcrest humbles PCA

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Porters Chapel pitcher Ryan Hoben looks to the ground during a five-run sixth inning that gave Hillcrest Christian a 7-1 win over the previously undefeated Eagles on Monday. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[3/30/04]The eerie cloud of fog that sprung from the outfield grass in the first inning Monday was a sign of things to come for Porters Chapel Academy.

The Eagles seemed to be in one all night.

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PCA (15-1) couldn’t buy a hit, imploded with mental mistakes and fielding errors, and was knocked from its undefeated perch by Hillcrest, 7-1.

Ole Miss signee Logan Power went 3-for-5 with a home run, and Joey Tackett scattered five hits in a complete-game win for Hillcrest (14-5), which blew open a close game with five runs in the top of the sixth.

“It was definitely frustrating. We had a lot of opportunities,” said PCA coach Randy Wright, whose team had runners on base in each of the first five innings but failed to get one past second base after the first inning. “We did not execute in time of need tonight. We did not get hits with runners in scoring position, and we did not execute defensively when we needed to make plays.

“The bottom line is we did not play well enough to win.”

PCA’s biggest downfall was its poor fielding, which led to five errors. Some, like Michael Shinn’s slip on wet grass in the fourth inning, were attributable to rain earlier in the day and the fog. Others were simply dropped balls or mental mistakes.

“We can’t win games against that caliber of team by not making the routine plays,” said PCA center fielder Gerald Mims, who doubled and scored the Eagles’ only run on an infield single by Michael Busby in the bottom of the first. “Their hits fell, ours didn’t, and it just wasn’t our night.”

PCA pitcher Ryan Hoben allowed a two-run homer to Power in the first inning, then didn’t surrender another run until the sixth.

Then, the Cougars strung together three straight hits, including an RBI single by Tackett that gave them a 3-1 lead. After Hoben struck out John Sudduth for the second out of the inning, two errors and a walk let another run in and loaded the bases.

Leadoff man Ryan Cobb singled to center, and the ball skipped by Mims. Three runs scored as Cobb went all the way to third, and Hillcrest had a commanding 7-1 lead.

“I pulled up on it,” Mims said of his error. “It was mental mistakes. We can’t let that happen, and we let it happen.”

The six-run cushion was more than enough for Tackett to work with. He kept the Eagles off-balance all night with a strong fastball and tricky curve, and got good support from his defense.

Tackett struck out nine, walked none, and watched his fielders turn two double plays. He allowed one hit after the second inning an infield single and retired the last eight batters he faced.

“Once we got three or four runs ahead, I really thought my pitcher was good enough to where they weren’t going to score any more runs on him,” Hillcrest coach Shane Kelly said. “He’s got a pretty good curveball, and on top of his mid-80s fastball, he’s pretty hard to hit up there.”