Eagles headed to semis:Late rally gives PCA series victory over Calvary

Published 12:23 pm Friday, April 30, 2010

Porters Chapel used a little smallball to rack up a big victory.

The Eagles used two bunt singles, a tiebreaking sacrifice fly by Matthew Warren and a couple of mistakes from Calvary Christian to score four runs in the bottom of the sixth, and went on to beat the Cougars 8-6 in Game 2 of a second-round MAIS Class A playoff series on Thursday.

The win — PCA’s 10th in a row in the playoffs going back to last season — capped a two-game sweep and sent it into the Class A semifinals for the second consecutive year. PCA (17-10) will face Riverfield, winners over Trinity, in the South State finals beginning Tuesday.

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“I’m so pumped. It was so hard to get there last year, and to get there two years in a row … I’m tearing up,” said PCA center fielder Colby Rushing, who went 3-for-4 and scored the go-ahead run.

Like so many of its victories during its playoff winning streak, this one wasn’t easy for PCA. Calvary scored twice in the fourth inning and twice in the fifth to take a 5-1 lead.

The Eagles, though, stormed back in the bottom of the fifth. Rushing led off with a ground-rule double to left and scored on a single by John Michael Harris. Two batters later, Kreuz Federick singled through the left side to bring in two more runs and cut it to 5-4.

After banging out the big hits to get close, the Eagles nickel and dimed the Cougars (21-6) to take the lead.

Jeff Hearn led off the sixth with a bloop single to left, then Rushing and Montana McDaniel both beat out bunt singles to load the bases. Rushing and McDaniel had four hits between them at that point, but coach Jerry Bourne was confident the smallball approach was the right one.

“When you’re at home you play for the tie. You know you always have that last at-bat. It was the right thing to do fundamentally and I knew those guys could execute,” Bourne said. “Those guys are willing to lay the bunt down. Montana looked at me and shook his head, but he did it anyway. It says a lot about those guys.”

After Rushing and McDaniel sacrificed their shot at glory, Harris sacrificed his body. The first pitch Calvary’s Matt Seward threw to Harris hit him in the knee, bringing in Hearn with the tying run.

Warren followed with a fly ball to shallow center. Kyle Koch caught the ball, but had to slide to do it. That allowed Rushing to book home from third with the go-ahead run, making it 6-5.

“I was going either way,” Rushing said. “My adrenaline was pumping. It was shallow, but I was sure I could make it.”

A bobbled throw on a potential inning-ending grounder allowed two more runs to score, and those turned out to be huge. McDaniel, pitching in relief, walked the leadoff batter and later gave up a two-out double to Jonathon Bartlett that made it 8-6. McDaniel got the next batter to hit an easy grounder to short to end the game.