Charles Henderson sweeps UMS-Wright, earns spot in state finalsPublished 11:15pm Friday, May 10, 2013
MOBILE — Normally only two things can happen when a batter swings the bat, a hit or a strike, but Charles Henderson’s Joey Denison changed the complexion of the game with a powerful swing in the fifth inning.
With Charles Henderson deadlock with UMS-Wright, and the Trojans desperate for a momentum swing, Denison sent a 1-1 pitch deep over the Bulldog student section in left field. Denison’s big home run not only gave the Trojans the lead for good, but also quieted the rowdy UMS-Wright crowd.
Coach Derek Irons said that the home run was big for the rest of the game.
“Joey has been the heart of offense all season,” Irons said. “That homer gave us some new life, and kind of stopped their rally. He has the ability to change the flow of a game with one swing of the bat, and he did it tonight.”
The Trojans picked up four insurance runs on a barrage of passed balls and wild pitches in the top of the seventh to give pitcher Houston Mabray a comfortable cushion to work the final three outs.
Mabray went the distance on the mound for Charles Henderson and cruised for much of the game. Mabray threw seven innings, striking out seven batters and giving up only four hits.
Mabray was congratulated by the opposing coaching staff after the game, and the UMS-Wright staff applauded him for “battling” all day. Irons agreed with the opposing coaches.
“Houston is a bulldog out there,” said Irons. “He never flinches when he is down, and throws with conviction all the time. He has been a rock for us all season, and will continue to be.”
Throughout the season, Charles Henderson has relied on its senior laden roster, but in the second part of the double header the Trojans received big plays from two underclassmen in the final inning in a nail biter, 3-2 win.
Xavius Burden, a junior, worked a seeing eye single to center to put the winning run aboard. Later in the inning Morgan Shaver dribbled a ball up the line to first, that allowed sophomore Reilly Fox to advance to third. UMS-Wright attempted to pick off Fox, but the throw went high, allowing the young speedster to race home and clinch a spot in the title series for the Trojans.
“That is Reilly’s role,” said Irons. “Realistically he is not going to play defense or hit for us this season, but he has embraced that role, and is very good at. Our philosophy is to put pressure on the defense, and try to get that extra base.”
In game two, Charles Henderson jumped out an early 2-0 lead, before seeing the Bulldogs battle back and tie the game in the fifth. The Trojans were able to put one on the board in the seventh to seal the win.
Tripp Blackmon went all seven innings on the for the Trojans, giving Charles Henderson two complete games from their starting pitchers.
“We got huge outings from our two aces today,” said Irons. “We needed that, because of the short week and they came through in a big way for us.”
Charles Henderson advances to the state title series for the first time since 2008. The Trojans will meet Brooks on Wednesday and Thursday.
“You keep telling yourself, next pitch and next game,” Irons said. “Then you look up and you are playing for a blue map. This is only the beginning.”