Eagles survive scare from Newton

Published 11:55 am Friday, March 25, 2011

Faced with its biggest — and, perhaps, first — challenge of the season on Thursday night, Porters Chapel Academy didn’t shy away from it. The Eagles buckled down, went to work, and managed to salvage a victory from the brink of defeat.

Kawayne Gaston scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice during a three-run rally in the sixth inning that propelled PCA to a come-from-behind, 5-3 win over Newton Academy. The Eagles won despite committing three errors and a series of baserunning blunders that had them scrambling to avoid being upset by a team they had beaten by 11 runs on Tuesday.

“Every game is not going to be a blowout. You’re going to have to win games where you’re on the ropes, games where you’re not playing your best. We did a good job of winning when we played a poor ballgame,” PCA coach Jerry Bourne said.

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PCA (10-1, 7-0 District 5-A) took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Montana McDaniel in the bottom of the first, but also had a runner thrown out at home trying to score on a passed ball. In the second inning, Gaston slid off of third base trying to stretch a double into a triple and was tagged out, and in the fourth the Eagles only scored one run after loading the bases with one out.

They also struggled in the field. Three errors led to a pair of runs in the third and fourth innings. In the fifth, Dillon Lewis singled and scored from first on a double by Dillon Williams to put Newton ahead 3-2. Suddenly, PCA found itself in a fight it wasn’t expecting.

“We were beating ourselves,” PCA pitcher Matthew Warren said. “We made errors that we don’t make. We didn’t come focused. I think it was in our heads that we manhandled them the other day.”

PCA was retired in order in the fifth, but finally put together a rally in the sixth. Warren led off with a double, and two wild pitches brought in courtesy runner Jake Boyd with the tying run.

Gaston then drew a walk and went to third on a single by Sam Staggs. Talbot Buys followed with a chopper to third. Newton’s Matthew Brown fielded it cleanly and caught Gaston halfway down the line, but his throw home sailed high and Gaston scored the go-ahead run.

A pinch-hit, RBI single by Jonah Masterson gave the Eagles a 5-3 lead and Warren slammed the door in the seventh. The senior allowed five hits and no earned runs in a complete-game victory. He walked two, struck out 11 and retired seven of the last eight batters he faced after Williams’ double.

“I felt good toward the end,” Warren said. “In the beginning I wasn’t too comfortable or locating well. Late in the game I hit my spots and they made plays behind me.”

Williams went 2-for-3 with a double, triple, RBI and a run scored for Newton (2-6, 2-3), which could have surged into the playoff race with a win. Instead, the Generals had to settle for a moral victory.

“At this point in the season, we really don’t have much to lose,” Newton coach Stacey Sykes said. “The guys knew they’d been beaten up a couple days ago and they wanted a great showing. They played loose and relaxed, and I’m proud to be their coach.”