Eagles headed to all-star game

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Once again, Porters Chapel Academy will be well-represented at the Mississippi Private School Association’s Class A all-star game.

Three PCA players — catcher Josh Hill, outfielder Josh Perry and first baseman Joe Borrello — were selected to play in the game on May 23 at Trustmark Park. The Class A all-star game begins at 2 p.m., while the Class AA-AAA game starts at 11 a.m.

It’s the 11th consecutive season, and 12th time in 13 years, that PCA has had at least one player picked for the game. It’s also the third time, and second year in a row, that the school has had the maximum three seniors selected.

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

“It’s going to be awesome. That was one of my self-made goals was to get on one of those (school record) lists and make the all-star game,” Hill said.

Hill, whose older brother Dean was an all-star for PCA in 2005, is batting .422 this season. He has 11 doubles, 32 RBIs, and an impressive 25 stolen bases.

Perry, a Warren Central transfer who didn’t play baseball as a junior, leads the team with a .467 average. He’s driven in 33 runs, hit 10 doubles and stolen 23 bases.

Borrello is hitting .385 with three home runs, 13 doubles, 27 RBIs and 33 runs scored.

Hill charging through playoffs

Digging up an old friend has helped Hill regain his hitting stroke.

Just before the end of the regular season, a slumping Hill switched to a bat he used last season when he hit .356 with five home runs. The result was a hot stretch in which he has gone 10-for-18 with two doubles, a triple, nine RBIs and five runs scored in six playoff games. Not coincidentally, the Eagles are 6-0 in that span and have advanced to the Class A finals.

“I found my old bat and I went back to it, and I’ve been smashing it,” Hill said. “Ever since then, it built my confidence up. It’s like a mascot. All the tape has the most pine tar on it you’ve ever seen, but I love it.”

Hill hasn’t just gotten hits, but timely ones. In Game 1 of a second-round series sweep of Franklin, he doubled in the tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning. In Game 2, he broke up a no-hitter in the fifth and started the eventual winning rally with a single in the seventh.

In the South State finals against University Christian, Hill’s bases-clearing double in the bottom of the first turned out to be the difference in a 4-1 victory.

“He’s been our best hitter the last few weeks, no question,” PCA coach Randy Wright said.

Pesky Hays is a tough out

Gabby Hays is a pest.

For two seasons, the 5-foot-7 Porters Chapel Academy right fielder has made a living out of being a tough out. He spoils pitches. He throws the bat at the ball and hits grounders. He gets base hits. He does everything except strike out, making him an annoyance for opposing pitchers and a big asset for the Eagles.

In 176 varsity at-bats over the past two years, Hays has only struck out 12 times.

“I’m just trying to get the ball and put it in play. I hate to strike out,” Hays said. “I’ll choke up and don’t take a stride or nothing. Just make contact.”

Hays has struck out only four times this season, and is hitting .368. He went 19 games before striking out for the first time. That spoiled his goal of trying to go the entire season without striking out, but he quickly realized how unrealistic that was.

“At first I was pretty upset. But when I got to the dugout I started laughing,” he said.


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com