Porters Chapel one win from championship|Wright earns 300th victory as Eagles takes Game 1

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 14, 2009

CANTON — Over the course of 300 victories at Porters Chapel Academy, Randy Wright has done just about everything there is to do — except win a state title on his own field.

Thanks to another late rally and an outstanding pitching performance from Montana McDaniel, he’ll get a chance to start on the next 300 wins by doing just that.

PCA vs. Bayou

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Game 2: at PCA

Today, 6 p.m.

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Matthew Warren drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning, Reed Gordon added a solo homer, and McDaniel retired the last 17 batters he faced Wednesday as PCA beat Bayou Academy 4-2 in eight innings in Game 1 of the MPSA Class A championship series.

It was the 300th career victory for Wright, who is in his 14th season at PCA. He and the Eagles can win their third Class A championship in seven seasons — and cinch it at home for the first time — when they host Game 2 tonight at 6. PCA’s two previous titles, in 2003 and 2006, were both clinched on the road.

“Winning 300 is a great accomplishment for me. But 300 doesn’t mean anything. Three-oh-one is the one that’s going to mean something,” Wright said. “Bayou has a great program and we’re fortunate to be up 1-0. But we know being one-up means nothing if we don’t get the next one.”

It was the 18th win in 21 games for PCA (24-8), and its seventh in a row in the playoffs. In four of those seven playoff wins, the Eagles have scored the winning run in the sixth inning or later. It was also their second extra-inning win.

With the game tied 2-2, Josh Perry led off the top of the eighth with a double down the left field line. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Hill, and scored the go-ahead run on Warren’s fly ball to center. Gordon added an insurance run with his first home run of the season, a towering shot over a light pole in left field, to make it 4-2.

“It was awesome. I would have been happy with any hit. It took a lot of pressure off Montana on the mound,” Gordon said of his homer. “I think it really shot them down. You could tell when they were batting that they didn’t have the same energy.”

McDaniel had plenty to do with that, too.

The sophomore right-hander hit a batter, walked another, and gave up two hits in the third inning as Bayou (26-7) tied the game 2-2. After John Mangliardi’s RBI single brought in the tying run, Wright made a trip to the mound to settle down his ace.

“I got in his ear and said ‘No more.’ I don’t want another baserunner today,” Wright said.

McDaniel did exactly what his coach asked. He struck out Winn Roark and got Stewart Salley to ground out to end the inning, then retired the side in order in each of the last five innings. In all, McDaniel set down 17 straight batters to end the game and finished with nine strikeouts.

Other than the second inning, McDaniel faced one batter over the minimum.

“I started throwing better as the game went on,” said McDaniel (11-1). “I started locating more of my pitches and striking people out.”

Roark also turned in a strong pitching performance for Bayou. He gave up a solo homer to Colby Rushing in the first inning and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second with only one more run. He hit five batters and allowed baserunners in every inning, but didn’t let anyone past second base from the third inning to the eighth.

It wasn’t enough, though, to keep the two-time defending Class A champions from the brink of elimination. It was Bayou’s first loss in Game 1 of a playoff series since 2005. Still, coach Rodney Martin was confident about his team’s chances. He’ll have his top two pitchers, Salley and Austin Payne, ready for Games 2 and 3.

“Porters Chapel is not here because they don’t deserve to be, and neither are we,” Martin said. “Neither one of these programs is here because they got lucky. Somebody has to lose one.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com