Hales, PCA cruise past Oak Forest|[03/17/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2007

It had been a while since Hayden Hales saw any serious time on the pitcher’s mound and it showed Friday night – for about one inning.

Then Hales settled in and was his usual solid self, and Porters Chapel did what it usually does.

Hales, who had thrown only 1 2/3 innings coming into Friday’s game against Oak Forest, tossed four innings of no-hit ball and helped his own cause with an RBI double as PCA beat the Yellow Jackets 8-0.

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Hales struck out seven and walked three, including leadoff man Mark Thompson in the top of the first. But he was able to pitch out of a couple of minor jams and keep Oak Forest (5-4) off-balance with a good mix of fastballs and curves.

&#8220I felt good. I walked the first batter of the game, but after that I got it over with and wasn’t nervous any more,” said Hales, who went 14-4 over the last two seasons with PCA but has been battling a nagging elbow injury he suffered during football season. &#8220I had some arm problems earlier, but it’s good to get that first win. I didn’t play bad at all.”

Hales ended his pitching stint while warming up for the fifth inning. He complained of soreness in his elbow and was relieved by Robbie Simms, who allowed only two hits and no walks in three innings of scoreless relief.

It was Simms’ third mound outing this week. He threw six innings in a win over Carroll Academy on Monday, then 2 1/3 innings of relief Thursday against Riverdale. Oak Forest coach Joe Weaver said the switch from the hard-throwing Hales to the rubber-armed Simms threw his team for a loop.

&#8220That was a great move by (PCA) coach (Randy) Wright,” Weaver said. &#8220You see a good, hard fastball from Hales and then he brings in the lefty and that’s a hard adjustment for hitters to make. We didn’t make that adjustment.”

PCA got all the runs it needed to support Hales and Simms in the bottom of the first. Michael Busby started a three-run rally by doubling to the gap in right-center and scoring on Hales’ double two batters later.

An RBI groundout by Cody Ferguson and an RBI single by Matt Cranfield brought in two more runs.

Spencer Pell’s two-run single in the fourth stretched the lead to 5-0, and the Eagles put the game away with two more runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. PCA scored its last three runs on only one hit, using a combination of three walks, four stolen bases, two throwing errors by Oak Forest catcher Tyler Nordstrom and a wild pitch to move its runners around the bases.

&#8220We were trying to be aggressive, and that three-run rally in the first kind of took that away from us. We got out of our gameplan,” Weaver said.