Busby belts Huntington: 10th-inning walk-off home run forces deciding third game|[5/13/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 15, 2006

Final game scheduled for 8 tonight in Ferriday, La.

Michael Busby went from hero to goat and back again so many times Friday night that it was hard to tell which side of the line he’d end up on.

With one mighty swing, the Porters Chapel Academy junior settled it once and for all.

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Busby blasted his second solo home run of the game to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning, giving PCA a thrilling 3-2 win over Huntington School in Game 2 of the MPSA Class A championship series. The PCA victory sets up a deciding Game 3 tonight at 8 in Ferriday, La.

&#8220That’s the best thing ever, to hear the home fans and everybody behind you,” Busby said of the walk-off homer, a line drive over the left center field fence. &#8220It’s the greatest feeling ever.”

A few innings earlier, Busby had experienced one of the worst feelings imaginable.

His solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning put PCA ahead 2-1, but he bobbled a one-out grounder by Ples Arthur in the top of the sixth to put a runner on. Arthur advanced to second on a wild pitch before Trey Corbett bounced another grounder to Busby.

Busby fielded this one clean, and threw to third to try to get the lead runner. His throw hit Arthur in the back, though, and Arthur was safe. Busby then relieved starting pitcher Cole Smith and got Trey Brasher to bounce into a fielder’s choice, which scored Arthur with the tying run.

PCA (25-9-1) then had a chance to win it in the seventh, but Busby – and the entire middle of the Eagles’ order – failed to come through in the clutch.

PCA loaded the bases with no outs and Busby coming to the plate. He popped up to short for the first out of the inning. Chris Mixon then hit into a fielder’s choice, with Corbett cutting down Brady Towne at the plate for the second out. Cleanup hitter Moose Carney struck out to end the threat.

&#8220We had to keep our heads up and keep playing,” Mixon said. &#8220They made some good plays in the field and got us out.”

From the depths of frustration, though, Busby started on his path to redemption.

He retired the next nine batters in order, striking out six of them, until Landon Willard singled to lead off the top of the 10th. Willard advanced to third on a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt before Busby struck out No. 9 hitter Phillip Washington, who had three hits in the first game of the series, to end the inning.

As PCA came to bat in the bottom of the 10th inning, Busby was leading off and the scene was set. He worked the count to 3-and-1, then smashed a hanging curveball from pitcher Huston Eliser for the game-winner.

&#8220I kind of redeemed myself,” Busby said. &#8220It feels good, but we never should have been in that situation in the first place. It should have been 2-1.”

Busby’s heroics handed Eliser a tough loss. The senior right-hander threw the entire game, but tossed only 108 pitches. He allowed five hits, walked two, and struck out seven. Only the two homers by Busby were earned runs, and they were two of only a handful of mistakes he made on the night.

PCA’s other run came courtesy of two errors in the fourth inning, and put the Eagles ahead 1-0.

&#8220My hat’s off to Michael Busby. I fed him two down the middle and he did what he was supposed to do with it,” Eliser said, adding of the last homer, &#8220It was a curveball. It broke good. I’d been throwing it all night, and I guess it just didn’t go as good as it had been.”

Smith also pitched well, and matched Eliser pitch-for-pitch until Busby took over in the sixth inning.

Smith retired the first eight batters he faced, and didn’t allow a hit until Eliser and Zack Brown singled in the fifth inning. Brown’s two-out base hit tied the game at 1-1, but Smith buckled down and got Washington to line out to Busby to end the inning.

Smith finished with five strikeouts in six innings. He allowed only the two hits, walked none and hit one batter but ended up with a no-decision. The action in the later innings relegated him to a footnote.

&#8220It was a pretty amazing state championship game,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. &#8220What a great job their team did and ours did. It was a very clean game.”

The teams will try to put together another epic tonight in Ferriday.

Huntington (20-11) will likely bring back Game 1 starter Trey Brasher – a freshman who threw six strong innings in a 5-4 win on Tuesday. PCA will probably counter with Hayden Hales, a junior right-hander who has not thrown in this series. Wright said, however, that every pitcher with the exception of Smith and Busby will be on call.

&#8220There’s nothing like this. It’s a one-time chance. We’re here, and hopefully we can go down there and finish this out,” Mixon said. &#8220We’re going to be fired up tomorrow. Winner takes all and loser takes nothing.”