Heidelberg derails Porters Chapel in two games|[05/02/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2008

Eagles lose 8-5, end season at 18-12

The gameplan was working to perfection.

By switching pitchers every inning, Porters Chapel was keeping hard-hitting Heidelberg Academy off-balance and off the scoreboard. As the fifth inning opened, the Eagles had a one-run lead and momentum on their side. Clayton Holmes badly fooled Heidelberg’s Derek Beach with a change-up with the inning’s first pitch, getting him to chase for strike one.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

And then the wheels fell off.

Holmes walked Beach, as well as four of the six batters he faced in the inning, reliever Reed Gordon walked three more, and Heidelberg scored five runs while putting one ball in play. Heidelberg took the lead for good and went on to beat PCA 8-5 in Game 2 of their second-round MPSA Class A playoff series, finishing off a two-game sweep.

“It’s hard. It kills you, especially when we fought like we did. It’s hard to take,” said PCA senior Chris May. “We wanted to get to Game 3 to get (Matt Cranfield) back on the mound. And we were holding our own, for the most part.”

Joe Borrello went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and also pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for PCA (18-12), and May hit a three-run home run that put the Eagles ahead 4-3 in the third. Beach hit a two-run homer in the first inning for Heidelberg (28-3), but its powerful lineup was held in check most of the night by a rotating cast of maligned pitchers.

Austin Barber, May, Holmes, Gordon and Borrello only allowed four hits in seven innings and struck out five. None of them had thrown more than 18 innings this season entering the game, and only Barber had an ERA under 3.50. Gordon, May and Borrello each had an ERA over 5.00.

PCA coach Randy Wright’s plan, though, was for each to throw one or two innings, so the Rebels — who hit four homers off Cranfield in Game 1 — couldn’t get into a rhythm. It worked.

“It kept us off-balance. One inning you’re seeing a right-hander, the next a left-hander, then a submariner. It’s hard to adjust,” said Heidelberg’s Colby Reeves, who went 1-for-3 with a single and two walks.

May’s homer, a long drive to right center that bounced off the hood of a car parked on the road 15 feet behind the fence, put PCA ahead 4-3 in the third inning, and the Eagles took the lead into the fifth. Holmes had retired six straight batters entering the inning, but suddenly lost control of his pitches.

He walked the first three batters to load the bases, got Blake Denham to hit into a fielder’s choice that brought in the tying run, then hit the next batter and walked one more before Wright pulled him. Gordon relieved but fared no better, walking three straight hitters to force in two runs. The last bases-loaded walk put Heidelberg ahead 8-4, and they would’ve had more if not for a baserunning blunder.

Beach drove a ball deep to right that Gabby Hays made a nice running catch on for the second out of the inning. Heidelberg’s Steven Peebles scored easily on the fly ball, but left third too early and was called out on appeal for the third out.

“What happened is, we got nervous. We got shaky on the mound,” PCA catcher Josh Hill said. “I think our mechanics were OK. I really think it was just nerves.”

PCA loaded the bases in the seventh and scored a run to slice the deficit to three with May at the plate. He hit a pop up near the catcher and was out via the infield fly rule. The catcher dropped the ball, but was able to tag out Colby Rushing, who had broken for home from third base, for the final out.

In the series, the Eagles left nine runners in scoring position.

“The story of our season has been too many runners left on base,” Wright said. “You can’t leave as many on base as we have and expect to be state champions. We needed to do a better job.”