PCA prepares for finale

Published 8:14 pm Thursday, April 19, 2018

Porter’s Chapel Academy has gotten on a roll late in the season, winning five of their last seven games and being competitive in the one loss. The Eagles have been playing some of their best baseball when it should matter most.

The problem is, it hasn’t mattered in the grand scheme of things.

The Eagles (11-10) had their playoff hopes dashed several weeks ago with an uneven run through the first part of the District 3-AAA schedule. They’ll wrap up the season Friday night at Bayou Academy with a chance to finish on a high note and with a winning record, but not much else to show for their late-season push.

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“That’s the bad part. In our conference, we start before spring break to give us a week at the end for make up games if we have any rainouts. We’re just now starting to figure ourselves out. Unfortunately, we don’t have any more games to make up any ground,” PCA coach Wade Patrick said.

PCA closed out its home schedule with an 11-3 win over Franklin Academy on Tuesday that both honored its seniors and gave a glimpse at some of next year’s key contributors.

Senior pitcher Kyle Guider took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and finished with nine strikeouts in the final start of his high school career. Cleanup hitter Brayden Ray, who has several home runs this season, went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. His final at-bat was a two-run single that capped an eight-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Meanwhile, junior Cole Pittman went 4-for-4 to continue a late-season hot streak. He has batted nearly .700 over the past seven games, with seven RBIs and eight runs scored. Another junior, Wade Dickard, reached base twice, scored a run and threw one inning of scoreless relief against Franklin.

Patrick said all of those players, plus a few more, went through a positive evolution this season that simply took a bit too long. PCA lost two early district games to crosstown rival St. Aloysius, and then split series with Central Hinds and Riverfield Academy to push it down to a tie for third in the standings.

“I think we were just trying to find ourselves and each individual role on the team,” Patrick said. “We were moving folks around. Once we settled on some guys that stepped in and started contributing, it settled us down. It took us a while. When you’re playing 14 guys or so and you’re trying to maneuver them, it’s tough. I’m still proud of them.”

Although they fell by the wayside in the playoff race, the late push — and beating Franklin, in particular — brought smiles to the Eagles’ faces. Franklin had won three straight games against the Eagles, and four of five over the past three seasons.

“Franklin had beaten us every time we played them. Every time we’re like, ‘We’ve got to give it to them this time.’ So it’s a good way to end,” Guider said.

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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