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CHHS hosts quot;Battle for Hogan’s Holequot; today

Sports Editor

It’s come down to one game and they don’t get much bigger than today’s contest between the Charles Henderson Trojans and the Carroll Eagles.

For the Eagles it’s a chance to get revenge for a nail-biting 10-9 ninth inning loss to CHHS on their home turf back on April 10.

For the Trojans, well, it’s a revenge thing as well. A win would be payback for last year’s loss to Carroll in the tie-breaker that left CHHS in the playoffs, but forcing them to hit the road en route to a first-round elimination.

Both teams notched shutouts in their last Class 5A Area 4 games. The Trojans played a near perfect game defensively and knocked off Eufaula 6-0. Carroll had very little problem with Russell County beating them 4-0 in a three-hit shutout by Josh Ivey.

The two wins left the two at the top of the Area standings with CHHS at 5-0 in Area play and Carroll at 4-1. Both have secured a spot in the upcoming ASHAA Class 5A State Playoffs, but now the question is who will wear the title Area Champions.

In both team’s final game of the season they will duke it out in "The Battle for Hogan’s Hole," something both teams will no doubt be ready for.

"We just know that every time we play them we can expect a battle," CHHS head coach Steve Garrett said. "The only time that it wasn’t was last year when we played here."

Three of the two teams last four games have ended in one-point wins. One for the Trojans this year, and two for the Eagles last season. The only game not decided in such close fashion was a 13-2 win by CHHS at ‘Hogan’s Hole’ that was over in five innings.

Some might see this as a home field advantage for the Trojans and rightly so, but Garrett expects a war.

"Just the fact that the last two seasons we’ve been fighting for the Area Championship and runner-up spots has made for some very intense games," he continued. "Last year’s tie-breaker at Troy State was probably the most intense game I’ve every coached in."

Even though the game can make the Trojans undisputed Area 4 Champs and allow them to host the first round of the State playoffs, Garrett doesn’t want his team to feel pressured into a must-win state of mind.

"We don’t want to put to much emphasis on this one game," Garrett said. "We could lose and still win the Area Title on Friday. Either way we will be in the state playoffs, but we just want to host that first round. To do that all we have to do is take care of business at home."

The Trojans will be expecting to face Carroll’s left-handed ace Daniel Outlaw who they batted around pretty well in Ozark the last time they faced him.

After falling in order in the first two innings on April 10, CHHS put together a couple of hits in the third and a huge fourth inning that saw five runs on four hits. Three of the hits and four of the runs were scored with two outs.

Carroll was forced to go with Josh Ivey, a fast-ball pitching right hander, in the seventh who gave up the winning runs in the ninth.

"We played a poor defensive game," Garrett said of the game earlier this year. "We made it tougher than it should have been. You don’t go on the road and get the calls you need to win in close games most of the time, especially when you make mistakes on defense."

The coach hopes for a completely different showing today. The Trojans have depended on outstanding defense all year and if they hope to lock up the Area and ride a nice eight-game winning streak into the playoffs that’s exactly what it will take.

"What I really hope for is to go out tomorrow and play error-free defense," Garrett said. "If we can do that, I really believe we have a great chance to win this game and come into the playoffs on a strong note."

Game time for tomorrow’s "Battle" is set for 5 p.m. on the CHHS campus.