Porters Chapel’s ‘Killer Cs’ overwhelm Flames|[03/30/08]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2008

FLOWOOD — On a beautiful spring day when bees were buzzing all around, it was Porters Chapel Academy’s Killer Cs that stung University Christian.

Clayton Holmes, Colby Rushing and Matt Cranfield — the first three hitters in PCA’s lineup — went a combined 7-for-11, with four RBIs and six runs scored as the Eagles beat University Christian 7-1.

The victory clinched a playoff berth for the 10th straight season for PCA, which has won five in a row after a 6-7 start. The Eagles (11-7, 9-1) can clinch the District 5-A championship with a win at home against Veritas on Tuesday.

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“We’re starting to play better defensively and swing the bats well,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “We saw as good a pitcher as we’re going to see here today, and shown we can hit a kid throwing 88 mph. That’s big.”

University Christian ace Mark Kaplan, a hard-throwing right-hander, had 13 strikeouts in a complete game. The efforts of Holmes, Rushing and Cranfield undid that, though.

Holmes went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and three runs scored on Saturday, Rushing was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Cranfield had two singles and three RBIs. The trio had seven of PCA’s nine hits, scored all but one of the team’s runs and drove in all but the last two. Joe Borrello had a two-run single in the top of the seventh to plate the Eagles’ final runs.

“I just think since we’re in the top of the lineup we’ve seen more pitches throughout the year. I guess it was just our day to play baseball today,” Holmes said.

Cranfield also turned in another dominating performance on the mound, allowing no earned runs and four hits in seven innings. He walked one batter, hit another, and struck out 11. In six starts this season, Cranfield (6-0) has given up just six runs — one earned — 12 hits and eight walks. He now has 73 strikeouts in 39 innings.

“We pretty much are invincible when Cranny’s throwing on the mound,” Holmes said.

PCA’s terrible trio set the tone early. Holmes led off the game with a double down the right field line, Rushing followed with a bunt single, and Cranfield brought both of them in with a single to left. Cranfield advanced to third on two throwing errors on his hit, and eventually scored on another error on a ball hit by Borrello to put PCA ahead 3-0.

In the fifth inning, Holmes singled and scored on a single by Cranfield, and the big three did their thing again in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

After University Christian (6-8, 2-4) scored an unearned run in the sixth to cut it to 4-1, Matt Greer led off the top of the seventh with a walk and Montana McDaniel came in to pinch-run. McDaniel was bunted to second by Austin Barber, then scored on a single by Holmes. Rushing followed with another single, Cranfield was intentionally walked, and then Borrello laced a single to left to bring in two runs and make it 7-1.

Cranfield retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh, striking out two batters, to finish the game.

“He got ahead of all of our hitters. Once he did that, he kept us off-balance. He just throws strikes, that’s his big thing,” University Christian coach Jonathan Broome said of Cranfield.

Vicksburg 6, Canton 1

Blake Hynum had a triple, home run, two RBIs and two runs scored to lead Vicksburg High (13-5, 7-1 Division 3-4A) over Canton. Brian Fitzgerald added a double for the Gators, while Ryan Ferrington pitched four solid innings to earn the win. Andrew Brown pitched the seventh for his first save of the season.