Once again, Porters Chapel is finding a way to win

Published 12:30 pm Thursday, May 6, 2010

RAYVILLE, La. — All of the Rocky movies were centered on a pivotal fight in which the Italian Stallion was pummeled, bloodied and beaten by a better fighter.

He’d fall. He’d be on the ropes, his chances hanging by a thread as his opponent — be it Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago — pounded his face into hamburger. He’d get back up. Stirring music would cue Rocky’s comeback as he landed haymakers aplenty and won the fight.

It worked, sequel after money-making sequel.

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Porters Chapel is following the same path after last year’s unlikely MAIS Class A state title run. Last year’s baseball team was on the ropes in nearly every contest, yet, like Rocky, they managed to survive the barrage of blows and land the fight-winning knockout blow.

This time sit’s another year, same results. Like a Rocky movie, it’s the same chapter, same verse.

On Tuesday in Game 1 of their South State semifinal against Riverfield, the Eagles looked like anything but a reigning championship team. They booted balls around the infield. Routine plays became an adventure. With the exception of a leadoff home run by senior Colby Rushing, hits were few and far between. Tempers flared in the dugout.

But then, as they seemingly always do, the Eagles pulled things together. Nine times in their 13-game playoff winning streak dating back to last season, the Eagles have erased a deficit in the fifth inning or later.

First-year PCA coach Jerry Bourne is hard-pressed to put a finger on exactly how his charges find a way to get it done.

“I don’t know what it is, but I just came into it. They’re great,” Bourne said. “We never say die. They just come to the ballpark expecting to win, by any means necessary. Today, we battled through not having our best game.”

The breaks went their way, sure. With PCA trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Rushing reached on a ball that took a nearly miraculous hop. A two-run triple by John Michael Harris was a routine flyball had the Riverfield outfield not lost it in a twilight sky before it landed and rolled to the fence.

It’s not a feeling of entitlement to victory. Rather, it’s a feeling of destiny. And while it’s not a tangible commodity that can be bottled up and sold, it’s something that gives them a powerful advantage. Even if it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet as a discernible metric.

“If we didn’t have that kind of mentality, we wouldn’t be where we are,” senior Matthew Warren said.

While the Eagle roster isn’t stocked with a multitude of talent like it was in the last decade, the attitude is still the same. Don’t give up the ship. Fight her until she sinks.

“We never get our heads down,” Rushing said. “Even when we’re down, we find a way to battle back up.”

The only difference between this sequel and the Rocky ones is there won’t be any belts, but medals and a ring. And no “Yo, Adrian.”

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can reach him at swilson@vicksburgpost.com or 601-636-4545, ext. 142.