PCA winds down season on a high note

Published 7:02 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

With two outs in the sixth inning Tuesday night, Porter’s Chapel Academy coach Wade Patrick walked out to the mound for a word with his pitcher Kyle Guider. The message was short and simple — the senior’s pitch count was rising and one way or another this would be his last batter, so make it memorable.

Guider obliged.

He struck out Franklin Academy’s Gavin Whittington, came into the dugout and buried his face in his jersey, showing the emotion of what’s likely to be the last competitive pitch he’ll ever throw.

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That strikeout was the last of nine that Guider had on Tuesday. He left with the game tied at 3, but PCA erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make him a winner as they beat Franklin 11-3.

“He came up and said you’re loaded down on pitch count and give me this last one right here and you’ll be done. I had two strikes on him and it hit me that this was the last pitch. I wouldn’t change it at all,” Guider said. “It’s sad. It hits you hard. After playing and pitching on this field for six or seven years and then having to think about it as one more pitch and I’m done, it’s crazy.”

PCA (11-10) has one more game left this season, Friday night at Bayou Academy. It was eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, so Tuesday’s victory over a Franklin Academy team that had served as a recent nemesis was a nice way for the team’s seniors to cap things off.

Eight of them started, including five — Guider, Bradley McCullough, Brayden Ray, Glenn Alan Kittrell and Brandon Thompson — who had been everyday starters for two seasons or more.

Ray went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Another senior, outfielder Cameron Harvey, was 2-for-2 with a double, walk, one RBI and one run scored.

Guider was the most impressive of the lot, however. He walked five batters and hit one, but didn’t allow a hit until Hunter Dear-Long led off the fifth inning with a single. Two more walks loaded the bases for Allen Newman, who drove a double to left field to bring in all of Franklin’s runs and tie the game at 3.

Newman was thrown out trying to advance to third to end the fifth inning, and then Guider retired the side in order in the sixth.

“He pitched great. He competed, and that’s what he’s done all year. He’s kept us in every game that he’s pitched and that’s all you can ask from your starter is to go as long as he can and give us a chance,” PCA coach Wade Patrick said. “Luckily we had a big inning there and got him a win, and that’s what it’s all about. Just hanging and grinding, gutting out what you can for as long as you can. He’s done that all year for us.”

The big inning came in the bottom of the sixth. The Eagles batted around and scored eight runs to turn a suddenly tight game back into a blowout. Franklin committed two infield errors and relief pitcher Wesley Guin walked three batters and hit another before PCA got its first hit of the inning — a two-run double to the gap in right center by Cole Pittman that plated two runs.

Ray followed with a two-run single to make it 10-3, and later scored on an error for PCA’s final run.

Pittman finished the game 4-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.

“We’ve had those (innings) against us,” Patrick said. “We were hitting the ball hard. We had a couple of baserunning mistakes, and those were on me. They did exactly what I told them to do. But once we scored one and got the lead, it snowballed from there.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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