Eagles advance with Game 3 rout of UCS|[04/26/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2008

Other than what amounted to a cameo appearance and a huge intimidation factor, Porters Chapel didn’t need its ace to beat University Christian on Friday.

Chris May went 3-for-3 with a double and five RBIs, Gabby Hays had two hits and an RBI, and PCA romped to an impressive 11-0 win in Game 3 of its first-round MPSA Class A series with the Flames at Pierce Field. PCA had 10 hits in the five-inning, mercy-rule shortened win, and scored all of its runs in the first three innings.

“We got some timely hits. Hits with two outs, hits with runners in scoring position,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “You hit well, pitch well and get timely hits and you’ve got a chance to beat people.”

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The victory sends PCA into a second-round series with longtime playoff nemesis Heidelberg Academy. The schools have played in three Class A championship series this decade – Heidelberg won in 2001 and 2004, PCA won in 2003 – as well as a football playoff game in November.

Game 1 will be at Heidelberg on Tuesday, Game 2 at PCA on Thursday, and Game 3, if necessary, back at Heidelberg on Friday.

“It’s a good rivalry. I love playing Heidelberg.” May said. “They beat us for a championship, we beat them for a championship and in football. They’ll be waiting for us and we’ll be ready to give it to them.”

PCA ace Matt Cranfield threw a no-hitter in Game 1 against University Christian and, after the Eagles dropped Game 2 on Thursday, was given the ball again with the season on the line. He turned in his usual dominating performance – three innings, no hits, four strikeouts on only 36 pitches – but was hardly needed thanks to a lively hitting display.

PCA jumped on Flames starter Nathan Buckalew for five runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back. Joe Borrello drove in the first two runs of the game with a ground-rule double to left, and May followed with a double to center to bring in two more runs. Clayton Holmes was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 5-0.

“After winning the big game yesterday, once we got down by five we had thoughts of how (Cranfield) threw in that first game,” University Christian coach Jonathan Broome said. “We started thinking that was a lead we weren’t going to be able to come back from.”

PCA batted around in the first, scored two more runs in the second on RBI singles from May and Hays, then batted around again in the third. Cranfield drove in a run with a single, May brought in two with his third hit of the game, and two UCS errors led to four runs and an 11-0 Porters Chapel lead.

The two errors continued a series-long theme for University Christian. It committed five in Game 3, and 12 in the series. Of the 25 runs PCA scored in the series, 11 were unearned.

“That’s been the biggest thing for me all year. We’re fairly young, and a big thing is minimizing mistakes. You have to come back and have someone step up, and our guys never did,” Broome said.

With the mercy rule in hand, Wright showed some mercy of his own by pulling Cranfield after the third inning. Holmes finished up, throwing two scoreless innings and allowing one hit. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out one. Holmes also threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in Thursday’s Game 2 loss.

“Clayton did a good job for us,” Wright said. “He did exactly what we asked him to do, and that was throw strikes and get people out.”