Porters Chapel wins district title Bufkin pitches five-hit gem to lead PCA to victory over University Christian

Published 11:45 am Friday, April 15, 2011

RAYMOND – Porters Chapel is repeating as District 5-A champions.

And a sophomore led the Eagles to it.

Sophomore Richie Bufkin pitched a five-hit, complete-game masterpiece to lead PCA to a 9-6 victory over University Christian in the rubber match of a best-of-three series to decide the district title Thursday at Central Hinds Academy.

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Bufkin’s efforts weren’t alone, however.

The defense committed just two errors and the offense supplied plenty of power. Montana McDaniel and Jarad Tompkins each went 3-for-4 with two RBIs apiece. Only three Eagles struck out.

“Everybody had their heads screwed on straight out there,” Tompkins said. “We were seeing the ball better and we were getting our pitch. We weren’t swinging at junk out there, but finding good pitches to hit.”

The Eagles will play at Wayne Academy in Game 1 of a best-of-three series next Tuesday night at 7 in the first round of the Class A playoffs. Game 2 and Game 3, if neccessary, will be played at Porters Chapel later in the week.

“It makes it a whole lot easier for us,” McDaniel said of the playoff atmosphere of the series. “It’s going to be a better chance for us since we’re a number one seed. The momentum was with us to start and we were able to string some hits together.”

University Christian rallied twice to knot the contest, but PCA countered to retake the lead both times. In the seventh, with the contest tied, 6-6, the Eagles made their final rally with two outs and two on.

Jeff Hearn popped up on a breaking ball, but University Christian shortstop Cody Grogan and centerfielder Adam McPhail collided head-first and the ball dropped between them, allowing the lead run to score. McDaniel drove in a pair of crucial insurance runs with a double off the left-field fence to stake Bufkin with a three-run cushion.

Bufkin did the rest, using a nice breaking ball on the inside half of the plate and a fastball he located up top or low and outside to retire the heart of the Flames’ order. He struck out Brandon Waltman, induced a weak tapper to second from McPhail and let off a sigh of relief as a big flyball was caught by centerfielder Kawayne Gaston for the final out. He threw 101 pitches, 66 of which were for strikes and struck out six.

“That kid has got heart,” PCA coach Jerry Bourne said. “You choke that up to heart. He was never fazed by anything. That kid hit the home run off of him, he never backs down and he made great pitch after great pitch.”

In the first, after Bufkin sat down the Flames in order, the PCA offense went to work against University Christian starter Waltman.

Leadoff man Hearn ripped a single off Waltman and next batter Tompkins unloaded on a fastball at the letters, driving over the 350-ft. sign in centerfield to give PCA a 2-0 lead.

The Eagles added to it in the top of the third, as Gaston scored on an error and Cameron Upton drilled a shot to left for an RBI triple to give them a 4-0 lead.

But it wouldn’t last.

University Christian tied up the contest in the bottom of the third. Michael Allen’s hotshot line drive was booted by McDaniel at short over first base, putting him in scoring position to open the frame.

After Bufkin recovered to strike out the next batter, leadoff man Conner Smith turned a high fastball into two runs as he drilled a shot over the left-field fence. Bufkin hit the next man he faced and gave up a single to McPhail to put two on.

After Bufkin induced an easy tapper for the second out, Walker Bullock drilled a shot to center that briefly clipped the outstretched glove of a leaping Gaston to tie the game at 4 apiece.

“I just had to dig deep and throw strikes,” Bufkin said. “I had my defense behind me and they made a lot of plays.”

A double by McDaniel and a sacrifice fly by Gaston gave PCA a short-lived lead in the top of the fifth. After Bufkin hit back-to-back batters in the bottom of the inning, Grogan tied the game with a two-RBI double.

Waltman took the loss for University Christian, giving up nine hits in five innings and six earned runs. Lefty Michael Allen was touched up for three runs in two innings of relief work.

Smith and Bullock paced the Flame offense with two RBIs apiece.