Porters Chapel clips Riverfield in baseball playoffs

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

RAYVILLE, La. — Even the best teams need luck on their side now and then. When good fortune fell in Porters Chapel’s lap, it wasn’t too humble to accept.

The Eagles took advantage of a two-out error and a fly ball lost in the lights to score three runs in the fifth inning Tuesday, and went on to beat Riverfield 4-2 in Game 1 of the MAIS Class A South State championship series.

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PCA (18-10) overcame four early errors and an anemic offense to win. Colby Rushing led off the game with a home run, but the Eagles only had two other hits before stringing together three during their fifth-inning rally.

“I’ve been asking myself that same question since the last pitch, how did we win?” PCA coach Jerry Bourne said. “That’s a game (in which) we had to overcome a lot of mistakes. Hats off to our guys and to Riverfield. A couple of breaks went our way that didn’t go theirs.”

The victory was PCA’s 13th in a row in the playoffs, and moved the defending Class A champion within a win of a return trip to the finals. Game 2 and, if necessary, 3 of the best-of-three series will be Friday beginning at 4 p.m. in Vicksburg. PCA has not lost a state semifinal series in six previous trips, and is seeking its sixth appearance in the Class A finals in 10 years.

“It’s been a goal of ours all season. Right now we don’t have the series won. Trinity thought they had them beat last week and they came back,” Bourne said.

So did PCA — again. For the ninth time during their 13-game playoff winning streak, the Eagles scored the winning run in the fifth inning or later.

Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Rushing came to the plate with two outs and a runner on first. He hit a grounder toward third that hit the grass in front of the basepath and over the glove of Riverfield’s Kyle Booth. Montana McDaniel followed with a base hit to left field that brought in Cameron Upton with the tying run.

The next batter, John Michael Harris, lofted what should have been an easy fly ball to center. Riverfield’s Kyle King and Dakota Moss both lost the ball in the lights, however. It fell between them and rolled to the fence as Harris motored to third for a two-run triple.

“When I hit first base I knew he couldn’t see it,” Harris said.

Riverfield assistant coach Gary Cater said the two outfielders lost the ball against the dusky sky, something that has happened a couple of times this season.

“At a certain time of day the sky is purplish and it’s hard to see. It was that time of day. It’s happened before,” Cater said.

McDaniel, now holding a 4-2 lead, shook off a rough start to finish strong. He allowed one walk and one hit over the last three innings and retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced. He got three straight ground outs in the seventh inning to finish it.

McDaniel allowed six hits in the game, struck out three and walked two. Logan Moore got an RBI single off him in the first inning and Brad Rogers tripled and scored on a double steal in the second to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead. They only got two runners past second base after that, though. It was a stunning turn of events for a team that averages nearly 11 runs per game and lost for just the third time in 28 games. In its three losses Riverfield has scored a total of five runs.

“I thought we would be in the right frame of mind when we got here today. We just were not our usual self at the plate,” Riverfield assistant coach Stuart King said.