Harris leads Eagles to rout of Newton|Prep baseball

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 26, 2010

Through three preseason games and one in the regular season, John Michael Harris had been in a slump.

Not any more.

Harris went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and pitched five shutout innings Thursday night to lead Porters Chapel  Academy to a 10-0 victory over Newton Academy.

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Matthew Warren added an RBI double for PCA, and Montana McDaniel went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

The Eagles (2-0, 2-0 District 5-A) soundly defeated Newton (1-3, 0-2) for the second time in three days, but showed plenty of rough edges. They left seven runners on base in the first four innings of Thursday’s game after stranding 10 in a 7-3 win on Tuesday.

“It was a good district win,” PCA coach Doug Branning said. “We’re a work in progress, that’s for sure. But we get a little sharper every game. I’m sure as the weather gets warmer our bats will get hotter.”

Harris had been just 2-for-10 with five strikeouts entering Thursday’s game. He came through with RBI singles in each of the first two innings, however, to stake the Eagles to an early 4-0 lead.

In the fifth, he came to the plate with the bases loaded and drove a high fly ball to the wall. It fell in behind the center fielder for a long single that brought in two runs to make it 8-0.

McDaniel also had an RBI single in the fifth, and PCA took advantage of four walks and two wild pitches to break the game open with a four-run rally. Four more walks, including two to Cameron Upton and Lee Kirk with the bases loaded, brought in two runs in the sixth and ended the game via the mercy rule.

“I was in a slump big-time. I just practiced and worked hard,” Harris said.

On the mound, Harris was wild but relatively unhittable. He allowed one hit and struck out eight, but walked seven batters and needed nearly 100 pitches to get through five innings.

Newton put only six balls in play against Harris and helped him out with three huge baserunning blunders. One runner was thrown out trying to steal second in the first inning, while two others were gunned down trying to advance on errant pickoff throws.

Newton left the bases loaded in the first inning and stranded six runners against Harris.

“He battled the whole night. He pitched into trouble, then came back with on-target pitches and got out of it,” Branning said. “He didn’t give in all night, and that’s a very good sign.”

Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com