McGhee saves Crusaders in perfect 30-0 season

Published 8:30 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

    FORT MYERS, Fla. — James McGhee made the biggest hit of his high school career when it counted the most. He delivered a two-out, two-run double in the top of the eighth inning. That lifted Pensacola Catholic’s Crusaders to a 7-5 victory against Miami’s Monsignor Pace in the Class 4A state championship game at JetBLue Park in Fort Myers.

     McGhee (5-8, 155) wears jersey No. 22. He is the son of Jim and Tina (Powell) McGhee. Grandparents are Doyle and Ann Powell of Brookhaven. He is the nephew of Ken and Sherry Jean Powell, also of Brookhaven.

     McGhee has made a commitment to attend Duke University and play baseball for the Blue Devils after he graduates in 2014.

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     The championship game started a 10 p.m. due to a rain delay and concluded at 12:47 a.m.

     McGhee, the No. 9 hitter in the Catholic order, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before delivering the biggest hit of the season for the 30-0 Crusaders, who are ranked No. 1 in the nation by both USA Today and

     Winning the title game meant everything to McGhee. He said, “Being 29-1 is no better than 1-29 if we lose this game.”

     The two strikeouts and groundout didn’t matter in the eighth inning when the state title and perfect season were on the line.

     Catholic coach Richard LaBounty said that McGhee had struggled in previous at-bats but that he has the character to put such things behind him. McGhee had missed time earlier in the year with a broken hand but his hands were healthy Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

     McGhee also made the biggest defensive play of the state championship game.

In the second inning after Pace tied the game at 2, the Miami team appeared

as if it would take a 3-2 lead on a single to center.

     McGhee charged the single and came up firing, throwing a strike to catcher Tanner Halstead, who tagged out Pace second baseman Leroy Garcia in a close=

play at the plate.