PCA takes South State|Gordon pitches Eagles to Academy-A championship series

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 8, 2009

JACKSON — After Thursday’s 9-2 victory over University Christian, Porters Chapel coach Randy Wright and his team took pictures with the championship trophy.

One of the picture takers asked Wright to smile. He deferred until the next trophy.

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Academy-A championship

Best-of-three series

Tuesday: PCA at North Delta or Bayou, time tba

PCA takes aim at the MPSA Class A championship trophy starting on Tuesday after clinching the MPSA Class A South State Championship at Smith-Wills Stadium and completing a two-game sweep of University Christian.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Wright said. “We’ve gotten hot at just the right time. It’s a great accomplishment to win South State, but this is not where we want to be. We want to be the winner at the end of next week. It’s been a great ride, but our goal is the state championship.”

The Eagles (22-8) will play the winner of Bayou Academy and North Delta in a best-of-three championship series. Game 1 will be on the road on Tuesday.

Pitcher Reed Gordon and a much-improved defense were two keys to PCA’s dominance. Gordon scattered six hits and two runs over seven stellar innings, his first seven-inning complete game this season. He struck out three.

The Eagles only committed two errors and made some spectacular plays behind him. In contrast, the Flames (17-16) committed eight errors, including four on consecutive plays in the sixth inning. Flame shortstops committed a combined six errors, all on routine throws to first.

“Over the last four weeks in a row, Reed has been phenomenal for us,” Wright said. “He’s gone out, chewed up the strike zone, chewed up outs. He’s done a great job of throwing strikes and getting outs. We played some great defense behind him and spotted him some runs today.”

Offensively, PCA had its way with the Flames on the basepaths, as nearly every baserunner picked up a steal in the contest. Colby Rushing and Clayton Holmes each had two-hit games for PCA.

In the second inning, after the Eagles scored a pair of runs off two Flame errors by shortstop Cody Grogan, the Eagles got a huge lift from Rushing. After Gabby Hays reached on a fielder’s choice and Holmes poked a liner through the gap, Rushing ripped a two-out triple down the third baseline to put PCA up 4-0 after two.

PCA struck again in the third and in the fourth. In the third, the Eagles mined an errant relay throw to home for one run, while in the fourth, Rushing picked up his third RBI of the day on a single and later scored off a passed ball to put PCA up 7-0 after four innings.

Gordon kept the Flames off-balance and his defense feasted on a steady diet of easy grounders. He was touched up by a run in the third off a RBI fielder’s choice by Mark Kaplan and Caleb Kellum later scored on an error in the fifth.

But that was it.

“I just did what Coach Wright has taught me,” Gordon said. “I just threw strikes. That’s all I had to do and my defense made great plays behind me. My outfield really had my back.”

The Eagles salted away the contest with a pair of runs in the top of sixth, when Matthew Warren drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and another run scored on an error.

“We just came up short,” UCS coach Jonathan Broome said. “We made a lot of mistakes in the field. We hit even with them, I thought we pitched okay. We had a couple of well-hit balls right at somebody. We just didn’t capitalize on opportunities.”

Sidearmer Kellum took the loss for UCS in four innings of work. He gave up five earned runs with three strikeouts.