Monroe County ends Trojans’ season, 16-5
By HEATH THOMAS
Charles Henderson high school head baseball coach Steve Garrett was hoping starting pitcher Justin Sims would pitch deep into the game Saturday so if Pete Van Horn, who pitched six innings in Wednesday’s win over Demopolis, was called upon in relief, another monumental effort wouldn’t be needed.
Unfortunately, Garrett’s scenario didn’t play out.
The Tigers used a lethal offense scoring nine runs in the third inning, chasing Sims from the game and continued the onslaught off relievers Van Horn and Clint Pugh, cruising to a 16-5 win over the Trojans in five innings during the second round of the Class 5A State Playoffs at Hogan’s Hole. CHHS concludes its season at 10-18 while Monroe (24-15) awaits the winner of the Stanhope Elmore-Russell County winner.
"I give them credit for hitting the ball as well as they did, they did a great job hitting the ball," Garrett said. "Sims didn’t have his best stuff at all. He had trouble throwing any off-speed stuff for strikes when he needed to, he was behind in the count and a good hitting team, if you make it easier on them, then you’re going to get hurt and we didn’t make it very difficult on them."
After Monroe took a 1-0 lead in the first, the Trojans countered in the bottom half of the inning with a single by Sims that scored Pugh to tie the game and CHHS pushed another run across in the second on an RBI single by Brett Pierce to claim its first lead.
But the lead was short-lived. Sims surrendered two singles, a two-run double and forced a fly out before giving way to Van Horn in the third. Monroe was unfazed by the switch, scoring the next seven runs with two outs on two-run doubles by Terrell Richarson and John Bohannon and a three-run home run by Travis Granberry and suddenly the Tigers had built a 10-2 advantage.
"When we were down 10-2, 10-3, I wasn’t defeated. I told them we have five more at-bats, you got to chip away and have good at-bats, that’s all," Garrett said. "And, like I said, we have a running mistake that kills us in a situation, some guys get up there and don’t have good at-bats as they should and we didn’t do the job."
Sims took the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits in his two and a third innings of work. The Tigers pounded out 11 hits in the contest, but CHHS helped the Monroe cause as the Trojan relievers combined to allow five walks and two hit-by-pitches in three and two-thirds innings. Two Tiger runs scored on passed balls during a six-run fifth inning that sealed the game. The first seven hitters reached safely before CHHS finally recorded an out.
Van Horn and Pugh combined to surrender 12 runs on six hits.
Tiger starting pitcher Ben Busby pitched a complete-game, scattering seven hits while fanning four. The Trojans biggest threat came in the fifth with the game already decided, as CHHS scored two runs, one earned on a hit, but Busby retired Van Horn on a groundout to end the game.
Six Tiger starters had at least one hit, led by Daniel Harper’s three hits and four RBIs.
Chase Kelly led CHHS with two hits.
"We’ve had some bright spots this year. We’ve played some great baseball here and there against some good teams and come up short," Garrett said. "We also played some very ugly baseball and today was pretty ugly. The consistency level was definitely not there. We are very inconsistent in our play. We were just inconsistent and I guess that’s a sign of our youth."