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Porters Chapel can wrap up Franklin, series with victory

[5/7/04]The Porters Chapel Academy Eagles have got to love where they’re sitting heading into Game 2 of the Academy-A South State championship series.

Up 1-0 in a best-of-three, against a team they’ve owned for the last three years is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face.

PCA (26-1) can finish off Franklin (28-6) and advance to the Academy-A finals for the third time in four seasons with one more victory. Game 2 of the series begins at PCA at 5 p.m., with Game 3 to follow if necessary. The Eagles a’re hoping it won’t be.

“We feel like we’re in a real good spot right now,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “We need to stay focused on the job at hand. We need to come out and execute, and if we do that I like our chances.”

PCA has executed every time it has played Franklin. The Eagles have beaten the Cougars nine straight times, including a two-game sweep of last year’s South State finals and three games this season.

The latest victory came Tuesday in Game 1 of this year’s South State finals. PCA jumped out to a 6-2 lead, then watched Franklin implode with bad baserunning and mental errors.

The Cougars cut the lead to 6-4 in the fifth, but had one runner picked off of third and another thrown out on an inning-ending double play. It’s the same kinds of mistakes that have haunted Franklin throughout its losing streak to PCA.

“Every time we play Porters Chapel, we seem to give them something every ballgame,” Franklin coach Ryan Ellington said. “That’s what we’ve got to depend on this next ballgame, is not to give them anything because they usually capitalize when we make mistakes. They always have, and that’s a sign of a good ballclub.”

Franklin has come back from most of the losses to PCA with another strong effort in the next game, and has given the Eagles the hardest time of any opponent this season. Of the four games in which PCA has been held under 10 runs this year, three have been against Franklin.

Wright respected the Cougars’ tenacity, and was expecting another tough game today. If the Eagles are on their game, though, he said it wouldn’t matter.

“That’s wonderful. I think it’s great that they’ve got confidence,” Wright said of Franklin. “But it’s our job to whip them and that’s what we plan on doing.”

To break the streak, the Cougars will have to go through PCA lefty Justin Boler. The senior junkballer has been impressive this year, going 9-0 with a 1.33 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 55 innings, including a win over Franklin already.

“Seeing new teams, seeing the same teams, I pitch the same game,” Boler said. “I pitch a mental game, not a physical game. I can’t throw a fastball by anybody. I have to use my head. Once I see them once, I know what they can and can’t hit.

“I pick up pretty fast.”