Walks doom PCA in extra innings|Prep baseball

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2010

FLOWOOD — After 31⁄2 hours, a half-dozen momentum swings and several outstanding performances, Tuesday’s game between Porters Chapel and University Christian came down to a couple of errant pitches.

University Christian drew three consecutive bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the 10th inning, the last by Cody Grogan on a full count with two outs, to overcome a two-run deficit and beat PCA 8-7.

“It’s tough to watch a game like that come down to a walk,” PCA coach Jerry Bourne said. “The guys played their hearts out. We had timely hits, clutch baserunning and good pitching.”

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A single by Andrew Irwin was the only ball the Flames (9-6, 4-3 District 5-A) put in play during their winning rally. They drew five walks in the 10th inning, and eight in the last two innings against relievers Reed Gordon and Matthew Warren. Two of the walks were intentional. PCA’s starting pitcher, Montana McDaniel, walked three and struck out 14 in eight innings of work.

“I don’t hate to win it any way,” University Christian coach Jonathan Broome said with a laugh. “We’ve lost a lot of games because of walks this year, so I guess it evens out.”

There were seven lead changes or ties in the game, including four in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. After Connor Smith gave University Christian a 5-4 lead with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth, PCA’s Kreuz Federick led off the seventh with a single and eventually scored on a wild pitch to tie it.

The game went into extra innings — plenty of them. Neither team scored in the eighth or ninth, but PCA (5-5, 4-1) finally broke through with two runs in the 10th.

John Michael Harris ripped a two-out double off the wall in left, then scored from second on a throwing error on a grounder hit by Colby Rushing.

“I never checked up. I knew I had to get there,” said Harris, who was 4-for-6 with a double, two triples, an RBI and three runs scored.

Warren followed the error with a single, and Gordon smacked a double into the right field corner. Rushing scored easily to make it 7-5, but Warren tried to score from first and was thrown out by 20 feet. The missed opportunity to add an insurance run came back to haunt the Eagles.

Seth Peace led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk for University Christian, and Irwin followed with his single.

After two strikeouts, Bourne elected to intentionally walk Smith — who had two hits — to load the bases and face Landon Perkins, who was 0-for-4.

The strategy was sound, but backfired. Gordon walked Perkins to force in a run, then Warren came in and walked cleanup hitter Michael Allen to tie the game at 7. Warren worked Grogan to a 2-2 count, but just missed with a fastball off the outside corner. Warren’s next pitch was a curveball that missed low and inside, giving Grogan the walk-off walk.

“There were some close pitches, but in the end we got our share. I’m not going to blame it on the umpires at all,” Bourne said.

Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com