One down, one to goPublished 1:30am Thursday, May 16, 2013
CHHS knocks off Brooks in game one
MONTGOMERY— Coach Derek Irons wanted to set the tempo of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Baseball Championship Series. That meant gambling early in the first inning, en route to a 7-4 win.
Leadoff man Hunter Baggett drew a walk to start the Trojan half of the first inning and advanced to second and third on sacrifices. Baggett then inched out to a larger than usual lead at third before bolting to the plate as the pitcher began his wind up.
Baggett slid in to the plate under the tag of Brooks’ catcher Austin Broadfoot to score the game’s first run.
“It was something that both Hunter and Joey (Denison) were familiar with, and you have to be fearless,” said Irons. “If Hunter checks up at all, if he doesn’t trust Joey enough, he is out. Both those guys trust each other and got us on the board.”
Irons’ early risk gave Charles Henderson pitcher Houston Mabray a lead to work with. Brooks however, would touch up Mabray for two hits and two runs in the top of the second. In total, Mabray gave up nine hits and four runs, with three earned runs. He struck out just four batters on a night where he admitted that he didn’t have his best outing.
Throughout the season, Irons has referred to Mabray as a “bulldog,” and he lived up the nickname in the final innings of the game. Mabray gave up just one hit in the last two innings and didn’t allow a ball out of the infield.
“We compete every pitch whether things are going your way or not, said Mabray. “The early part of the game, things weren’t going my way, and what he means by ‘bulldog’ is competing and fighting through that.”
Trailing 3-1 in the third, Charles Henderson’s bats went to work. The Trojans picked up three hits of their own in the inning and plated three runs to take a lead they never gave up.
Baggett led off the inning with a single and scored later in the inning on a single by sophomore catcher Chase Smartt. Denison later doubled to the alley in right field to pick up the first of his two RBIs of the night.
Denison led the Trojans at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Smartt wasn’t far behind, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, as well.
Baggett scored three runs for the Trojans.
Charles Henderson tacked on three more insurance runs in the fourth, once again off the bat of Smartt and Denison. The insurance runs allowed Mabray to go the distance on the mound and pick up the complete-game win.
The win for Charles Henderson gives them a leg up in the best-of-three series for the state title. Irons and the Trojans now need just one victory to bring home the school’s first state championship since 2008.
“It is a great start, but the format is a little different,” Irons said. “In about 24 hours we will be back, and the series is a long way from being over.”
Charles Henderson and Brooks will continue the series today at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery. First pitch for the second game of the series is set for 4 p.m.