Fight to the very end

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; As hot as he was at the plate, it was the big foot of Matt Cranfield that sent Porters Chapel into delirium.

The sophomore Eagles pitcher blocked Huntington baserunner Hunter Norwood away from the plate, making him an easy target the tag for the final out of the MPSA Class A championship series here Saturday night.

The dramatic 7-6 Eagle win clinches Porters Chapel&8217;s second state title, last won in 2003. Huntington (20-12) ends as the Class A runner-up for the second straight year.

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The final tag out capped an outstanding game from Cranfield. He finished 4-for-4 at the plate, including a two-run homer in the third inning that put PCA (26-9-1) up 6-0.

Cranfield then came on in a relief of starter Hayden Hales with two out in the fifth after the Hounds had cut it to 6-4.

Even though he gave up two runs in relief, Cranfield got the big outs the Eagles needed. He struck out Landon Willard for the second time in the game to bring up two outs and the tying run on second base.

He got Brant Bradley in a hole 1-2 but then threw a pitch too low for catcher Spencer Pell to handle, allowing Norwood to reach third.

&8220;All I could think about then was that guy on third,&8221; Cranfield said. &8220;I wanted to go outside on the next pitch, thinking he would chase, but it was little too outside. But their runner (Norwood) got a late jump. Spencer made a great throw to me, and he (Norwood) didn&8217;t have a chance.&8221;

PCA coach Randy Wright was just elated to get the last out.

&8220;This was an unbelievable series to come down to a play at the plate. But I surely didn&8217;t want to lose it on a passed ball,&8221; Wright said. &8220;Huntington had a lot of fight in them, and they deserve credit. But I felt good about our guys tonight.&8221;

The Eagles made Wright&8217;s night by belting out 14 hits against Huntington starter Trey Brasher, a 5-4 winner in Game 1. Brasher went the whole way despite allowing four runs in the first off six hits and then two more off Cranfield&8217;s homer in the third.

&8220;We&8217;ve done it before,&8221; Hounds coach Mitch Ashmore said about coming back down 6-0. &8220;I was hoping we&8217;d get a little life and then maybe pop one out of here. They (PCA) swung the bat well.&8221;

Huntington got a run in the third and fourth to cut the deficit to 6-2. They then added three more with two outs in the fifth. Brasher drove in the first with a single to left, and Huston Eliser followed with a double off Cranfield to score Norwood who was running for Brasher. Eliser was able to take third when the Eagles missed the cutoff man.

A passed ball allowed Eliser to score, making it 6-5.

PCA got a run back in the sixth when Chris Mixon sent a fly ball into right field. The play was misjudged allowing Cole Smith to score from first for a 7-5 lead. It was the Hounds&8217; only error of the game.

In the seventh, Trey Corbett got his third hit of the game with a double off the green fence in center. An infield error put the tying run in Brasher, but Cranfield traded a run for an out by getting Eliser to ground out to Mixon at third base.