Eagles rout Lee in playoff opener|[4/20/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Porters Chapel Eagles were bitter and heartbroken after Lee, Ark., knocked them out of the Academy-A football playoffs in October.

With an impressive offensive display on Tuesday, they moved a step closer to returning the favor.

PCA banged out 12 hits, including three by Chris Mixon and two each from Hayden Hales and Cole Smith, in a 12-2 rout of Lee in Game 1 of a first-round Academy-A baseball playoff series.

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The Eagles can finish the best-of-three series and move on to the second round for the fourth time in five years by winning Game 2 on Thursday. The game, at Lee Academy in Marianna, Ark., will begin at 4 p.m.

“It’s payback. They beat us in the first round of the playoffs in football and we wanted to give it back to them a little bit,” said Mixon, who was 3-for-3 with a triple, single and home run. He scored three runs. “We don’t like them. There’s a lot of bad memories.”

The Eagles (19-5) will go with a surprise starter in Game 2. Freshman Matt Cranfield will start in place of ace Michael Busby, who is battling tendinitis in his throwing arm.

Busby played shortstop in Game 1 and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double. He also scored two runs, including the game-clincher.

“Michael has a sore arm. It was my decision for him not to pitch tonight, and Matt Cranfield is going to start for us on Thursday,” PCA coach Randy Wright said.

Hayden Hales started on the mound for PCA and turned in a solid performance. He hit two batters, walked one and allowed three hits, and finished with 10 strikeouts. Hales (7-1) struck out the side in the second, third and fourth innings and gave up just one earned run.

Hales also helped himself at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles.

“Hayden did a great job tonight,” Wright said. “He pitched very solid, gave us a chance to win, and that’s all we can ask for.”

Cody Clay homered and scored both of Lee’s runs in Game 1. In the top of the second, he was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on an error to put the Cougars (8-6) ahead 1-0. It was the last time they had even a whiff of the lead.

PCA scored five runs in the bottom of the second – four of them with two outs – and never trailed again.

After Mixon led off with a triple and scored on Brady Towne’s sacrifice fly, Smith started the rally with a two-out single. After a walk to Judd Mims, Smith scored on Busby’s RBI double to put PCA ahead 2-1.

Moose Carney then lined a two-run double off the wall in left and Hales finished things with an RBI single.

“We got on a roll in the second inning. We started swinging the bats real good and got some hits to fall,” Wright said. “I want to say that whole rally came with two outs, except the first one. That’s something we’ve struggled with a little bit this year, leaving some men on base, and we did a good job of getting those runs in.”

The Eagles added four more runs in the third inning to put the game away. RBI singles by Dean Hill and Mims keyed the outburst, which left PCA ahead 9-1 and counting the runs until the game was ended by the mercy rule.

The end finally came when Hales singled in Busby in the bottom of the fifth.

“They’ve got a really good team. They swing the bats well and do a lot of little things well,” Lee coach John Holcombe said, adding that the Cougars’ five errors didn’t help their chances. “We just kicked it around just about every way we can do it today, didn’t have some good at-bats and just didn’t do some things to help ourselves win. We did more things to help them win than we did to help ourselves.”