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Eagles lay waste to Franklin

Porters Chapel Academy player Judd Mims (17) yells as Michael Shinn heads home on a grand slam by Michael Busby in the fifth inning Friday. (Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[5/8/04]The score was wild. The pitchers were off. And the game was ugly at times, in more ways than one.

Even so, Porters Chapel’s win over Franklin Friday in Game 2 of the Academy-A South State championship series rated a perfect 10.

Freshman Michael Busby went 4-for-5 with six RBIs, including a backbreaking grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning, as PCA outslugged Franklin 19-10 to advance to the Academy-A finals for the third time in four years.

It was PCA’s 10th straight win over conference rival Franklin (28-7), and the second straight year the Eagles beat the Cougars for the South State title.

“There’s no one that I’d rather beat than Franklin. They’ve got a good team, they try hard, but they’re second-best,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “We’re just better than they are. We’ve proved that time and time again.

“… They’ve battled, and they’ve tried hard, but the bottom line is they just can’t play with us. They’re just not quite as good as we are. And maybe someday they’ll get to that level. But they’re just not there right now.”

The two-game sweep sends PCA into a rematch with Heidelberg next week. Game 1 of the state finals will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Heidelberg, while Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3, will be played Friday at PCA.

PCA also played Heidelberg in the state finals in 2001 and 2003, with each team winning once.

“I’d love to see somebody else, but at least there’s a little familiarity there and we know the routine,” Wright said. “… We’re not going in blind. We’ve been here before.”

Friday’s game against Franklin was wild from the beginning.

The Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to two PCA errors, a hit batter, and a series of bunts. PCA threw more balls out of the infield in the inning (two) than Franklin hit out of it (one). Darren Graham’s RBI single, which made it 3-0, was the only ball to reach the outfield.

“We came out and scored three, and then they scored four,” said Franklin’s Tyler Harris, who went 3-for-4 with a double and four runs scored. “I’m playing shortstop, and I’m thinking, man, we’re about to have a fun game,’ because we’re fixing to score a lot of runs. I was right. But they scored more.”

The Eagles responded with five straight hits, including a two-run single by Justin Boler and an RBI double by Josh Gain, to take a 4-3 lead. They never trailed again.

The Eagles extended the lead to 6-3 with a pair of runs in the second, and held Franklin at arm’s length the rest of the way. PCA scored at least two runs in every inning and answered every Franklin charge with a rally of its own.

The Cougars cut it to 6-5 in the third on another RBI single by Graham, and PCA bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Franklin scored four more in the top of the fifth to make it 11-9, and the Eagles finally delivered the knockout blow in their half of the frame.

After an RBI fielder’s choice by Michael Shinn increased PCA’s lead to 12-9, a two-out walk to Gerald Mims loaded the bases. Busby followed and hit a high fly ball to deep center. Blaise Sims drifted back to chase it, but it cleared the fence by about four feet for a grand slam.

“I was hoping for a liner in the gap, but I just watched the ball and hit it,” said Busby, who also allowed one run and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings of relief. “I didn’t think it was going over. I was just running. I looked up at second and was like, oh wow. I better slow down.'”

Trailing 19-10, Harris hit Boler with a pitch and Busby buzzed Harris in his next at-bat. Mims came to bat after Lofton’s triple, and Harris’ first pitch was at Mims’ head.

PCA first base coach Bubba Mims, Gerald Mims’ father, protested the pitch and got into a shouting match with the Franklin coaching staff. The two were separated before it escalated further, but Franklin coach Ryan Ellington was restricted to the dugout for the rest of the game.

“I hate to see anything like that happen, but I know that they’re dealing with a lot of frustration from years of getting whipped by us,” Wright said.

Several Eagles brought brooms out of a tool shed during the sixth inning, and others swept the dirt around second base as Franklin’s players ran in the outfield. Afterward, the Eagles took one last parting shot at the Cougars.

“They talk a lot of noise, but it’s all what you say on the field and it is about the scoreboard,” said Boler, who was 1-for-3 with a single and three RBIs. “They can’t say anything about it. It is on the scoreboard, and we whipped them.”