Porters Chapel one win away from finals|Prep baseball playoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

As soon as he zipped his last fastball of the night past a flailing batter, Montana McDaniel’s teammates erupted out of the dugout and charged toward the mound.

McDaniel, exhausted but happy, broke into a wide grin and slumped his shoulders. He took two steps before they were upon him, lifting him in the air the way he had just lifted them a little closer to a state championship.

Playoff schedule

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Porters Chapel vs.

University Christian

Game 1: PCA 4, UCS 1

Game 2: Thursday, 4 p.m.,

at University Christian

Game 3: Friday, 6 p.m.,

at PCA (if necessary)

St. Aloysius vs. Stringer

Game 1: Thursday, 6 p.m.

at Stringer

Game 2: Friday, 6 p.m.

at Bazinsky Field

Game 3: Saturday, 4 p.m.

at Stringer (if necessary)

McDaniel allowed just three hits and two walks, and finished with 13 strikeouts to lead Porters Chapel to a 4-1 win over University Christian in Game 1 of their MPSA Class A semifinal series on Tuesday. The skinny sophomore threw 132 pitches on a warm, humid night, leaving his shirt soaked in sweat.

“I’m tired. Tired, tired,” said McDaniel, who also walked, stole two bases and scored a run on the offensive end. “It was hard for me to focus. I had to remember my mechanics.”

The win brought PCA (22-8) within one more victory of its fifth appearance in the Class A finals since 2001. The Eagles can clinch the best-of-three series by winning Game 2 on Thursday at University Christian (17-15). If a Game 3 is necessary, it’ll be played Friday night at PCA.

“Ever since we started the playoffs, when we’ve been in an elimination-type game we’ve fared better,” University Christian coach Jonathan Broome said. “They were fine after the game. They know what we have to do.”

PCA scored all of its runs in the bottom of the first inning. Colby Rushing hit a solo homer to break the ice, then two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. Josh Hill roped a double into the left field corner, bringing all three runners in and giving the Eagles a quick 4-0 lead on University Christian ace Mark Kaplan.

Kaplan settled down after that. He only allowed one more hit, a two-out single by Hill in the third inning, and finished with five strikeouts. He walked four batters and hit four more in the game.

“That was part of our plan was to jump on him early,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “The kid can pitch. You’ve got to give him credit.”

Unfortunately for the Flames (17-15), McDaniel can pitch too.

McDaniel retired eight of the first nine batters he faced, then allowed a two-out solo home run to Caleb Kellum in the third inning that made it 4-1. McDaniel also finished strong, retiring the last seven batters he faced, but got a little help from his defense and a lucky bounce to dance around some trouble in the middle innings.

The Flames had a runner thrown out at third for the final out of the third inning, and failed to score after loading the bases with one out in the fourth. McDaniel struck out three straight batters — one reached base on a passed ball — to get out of that jam.

In the fifth inning, UCS had runners on first and second with two outs when Taylor McDaniel hit a hard grounder in the hole between third and short. The ball bounced up and hit Kellum in the foot as he headed toward third, however, negating a likely RBI single. Kellum was called out for runner interference to end the inning, and the Flames didn’t put another runner on base the rest of the game.

“That was big. It probably cost us a run and we still had some guys on base,” Broome said. “There was nothing he could do. Taylor hit the ball as good as he could hit it. Caleb jumped and it just bounced up and got him.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com