Charles Henderson wins Area Championship

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2000

Sports Editor

The Carroll Eagles came to Hogan’s Hole Thursday expecting to play a baseball game. The Charles Henderson Trojans came into their final regular season game ready for a war.

With their game face on and their A-game working, the Trojans claimed the Class 5A Area 4 Championship in only six innings with an 11-1 stomping of the Eagles. A far cry from the previous two battles fought by the two clubs.

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CHHS actually looked ready to notch an 10-0 shutout after only five innings, but a two-out double in the top of the fifth saved the Eagles for at least one more inning. In that one inning of life Carroll bought themselves, Kevin Stephens came on in relief of Jonathan Neeley and killed any hope striking out three-straight batters.

There was never any real doubt in the Trojans’ half of the sixth. Neeley came to the plate to lead off the inning and was swinging for the fences in an attempt to end it all, but had to settle for a double off the fence in center.

It was up to freshman Clint Pugh, two batters later, and Pugh was able to execute a perfect bunt-slash that caught the Carroll shortstop out of position to score pinch-runner Jarvis Woods from second and give Charles Henderson their first Area Championship in 10 long years.

CHHS head coach Steve Garrett said that he couldn’t be more pleased as he wore a huge smile on his usually stoic face.

"I couldn’t have asked for anything better," Garrett said after the game. "We played errorless defense and it was just a total team effort. Everything was positive all the way around.

"We simply did not want to play another tiebreaker game like last year," he continued. "That would have been a nightmare."

Garrett was most impressed with the error-free play of his Trojans, something they have been able to be proud of in the last three games.

"In the last two or three games I don’t think we’ve committed an error," he said. "That’s something to say in high school baseball."

Neeley started on the mound for CHHS and mowed down the Eagles in order the first two innings. He struck out seven in only five innings and allowed only five Carroll hits.

The Eagles squandered their best chance in the third with the bases loaded when Will Jones handled a grounder to second and stopped the threat. Carroll’s only run came in the fifth on a couple of singles and a double.

The Trojans scored two in the first on a Jason Barron double and a sac-fly by Chris Boswell. They then broke things open in the bottom of the second on a two-run blast by Hunter Mathews who returned to the order for the first time after a wrist injury left him sidelined for over a month.

"I told myself yesterday that I was going to try and do something big when I first came back," Mathews said. "It was just a perfect 2-0 pitch and I drove it."

CHHS went on to score two more in the inning off a Barron triple and a Carroll error. They then put the real pressure on by scoring four in the fourth making it 10-0 and implementing the 10-run rule.

The Trojans will now host the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday. They will face the runner up of Area 2 which consists of Citronelle, Escambia County, Jackson and Monroe County.

The first round and the second round are single-elimination games while winners will move on to the third and fourth rounds which are best two out of three.