Porter’s rip, Van Horn’s arm, holds off Carroll
OZARK – Charles Henderson’s Daniel Porter took advantage of the what head coach Steve Garrett called a "sea of green", dropping a three RBI triple over the heads of the Carroll outfield in the top of the third as the Trojans held on for a 5-3 win over their area foes.
Eagle Park was built in 1946 for the purpose of a Minor League team. The distance from homeplate to center stretches a good 440 feet, so saying it’s not your typical high school baseball field would be an understatement.
"That hit would have been out on our field," said Garrett about Porter’s shot. "We’re not used to playing out there. It’s hard for us to position our outfielders in something like this, because we’re not used to it. When you play in a big field like this, you have a tendency to play way too deep, then what happens is they start dropping singles right in front of you."
That started to be the case in the bottom of the seventh when starting pitcher Pete Van Horn got into only his second real jam of the game. The sophomore had beamed two Eagles’ batters in the first inning and one hit put Carroll up 2-0.
But in the seventh, three straight singles loaded the bases for Carroll and a sacrifice fly by Anthony Joseph brought a runner home with still two outs left to give in the inning.
Garrett admitted he thought about pulling Van Horn at that point.
"I’m glad I stayed with him," said Garrett. "I mean, he bucked up and came through and I can’t say enough about that. He pitched a tremendous game."
With Jason Dunn and pitcher Aaron Houchin still in scoring position for Carroll, Van Horn came back to catch both John Mark Bragwell and Luke Blakenship swinging on third strikes, ending the game in favor of Trojans.
It was the eighth and ninth strike outs of the game for Van Horn, who allowed six Carroll hits.
The Trojans tallied only three hits offensively, but took advantage of Houchin’s inability to find the plate in the third inning to take the lead. Blake Phelps was walked to start off and Brett Pierce touched base on error. After a Tyson Pugh flyout, Clint Pugh was struck by a Houchin pitch to load the bases and cleanup hitter Alex Long took an RBI on four balls. Chase Kelly forced Pierce out at home with a grounder, but Porter stepped up to deliver his triple and give the Trojans a 4-2 edge.
"Porter looked absolutely terrible in his first at-bat," said Garrett. "But he came back and got us the triple. That was a big hit. I wish we could have got some more runs, but we put something together in that inning. We had some good eyes up there and we didn’t swing at any bad pitches."
David Doty was hit by yet another pitch from Houchin to lead-off the fourth. Tyson Pugh’s double moved his teammate over to third, where Clint Pugh brought him home on a basehit, increasing CHHS’s lead to 5-2.
The Trojans played at Eufaula on Wednesday night. A win there would clinch a third straight area championship for Charles Henderson.