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Van Horn’s hook keeps Demopolis guessing at the plate

Sports Editor

Pete Van Horn is a player after head coach Steve Garrett’s own heart.

That is, when he listens.

On Wednesday, the Trojans’ sophomore pitcher chewed up Demopolis’s .327 team batting average and spat it right back at them. Van Horn mowed down 10 batters, gave up four hits and picked up a 4-1 playoff victory for the Trojans in six innings pitched.

Garrett learned this week the Tigers had problems with curve balls. So he had Van Horn feed them a steady diet of hooks and outside pitches.

The Tigers never caught on.

"I didn’t think I got very good scouting reports, but I got several," Garrett said. "I knew their six and seven hitters couldn’t hit a curve ball so I just had Pete throw it to them over and over again."

Top hitter Clint Moody, who batted .500 for the year?

0-for-3, struck out twice.

Lead-off batter Matt Chambless’s .337 average?

One ground out off Trojans’ left hander Justin Sims in the seventh. Chambless took a walk the first time up was also called out on strikes his next two trips to the plate against Van Horn.

"It took me awhile to get adjusted to that mound," said Van Horn. "They couldn’t hit the outside pitch and they couldn’t hit a curve ball so they were in trouble."

Cocky.

A little arrogant.

But that’s what Garrett says a baseball player has to be in order to succeed on the diamond.

"You have to be confident to play this game, because it’s so mental," he said. "That’s what these guys haven’t had all season; an arrogance or cockiness about them. Now Van Horn’s got it. Definitely. But he’s got a little too much of it. I wish some of it would rub off on some of these other guys."

Van Horn’s even confident enough to shake off his head coach’s pitching signs.

Or so he thinks.

"I knew who their best hitters were and I knew what to do with them and Pete’s out there shaking off my location," said Garrett. "I’m like, ‘Pete, I’ve got notes right here. Do what I tell you to do.’ Some pitchers start thinking that their smart for some reason and want to outsmart somebody. Then they get into trouble."

Sims will get the start on Saturday against Monroe County with Van Horn waiting to come in as relief if needed. Garrett wants to win this one and move on to the third round where the winner is decided by a best-of-three series instead of single-elimination.

Van Horn said the win over Demopolis just proved the Trojans are a better team then they’ve been given credit for.

And he was confident when he said it.

"This just lets people know that we don’t play slacky teams like everybody else," he said about the Trojans’ win. "We may have the worst record, but I guarantee you that ten of those teams were ranked that we lost to. And that’s in Alabama and Florida."