Trojans win game, area despite #039;flat#039; performance

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

Charles Henderson baseball coach Steve Garrett described his team's performance Saturday as "flat."

The Trojans (17-5) had defeated Escambia County in a pair of routs earlier in the season but did not have that luxury Saturday. Still, Charles Henderson made the plays it needed and won the area championship with a 6-4 win.

"I told these guys Escambia County was not a bad baseball team," Garrett said. "We were just a little flat."

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Charles Henderson led by four runs twice, 5-1 in the fourth and 6-2 in the fifth, but had to hold on late. Matt Johnson, who pitched in relief for starter Pete Van Horn, surrendered a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to Chase McGhee that cut the lead to 6-4.

Johnson walked the next batter and surrendered a single to put the go-ahead run at the plate. He forced Miles Smith to fly out to right field and struck out John Brantley to end the game.

"Matt was not as sharp as he normally is," Garrett said. "This team hits the fastball pretty well and he blew a few by them early."

Johnson pitched the final three innings and surrendered three runs on five hits. He surrendered a triple and a home run, walked a batter and hit one.

In the sixth inning, Johnson's pitch came in high and tight on Escambia County designated hitter Michael Harrison. The ball hit Harrison on the nose and broke it.

"We teach our hitters to turn their heads around in a case like that so the ball hits their helmet," Garrett said. "He didn't do that and the ball hit him in the face."

Harrison lay on the ground for several minutes as blood poured from his face. Escambia coaches said he broke it completely and could not feel anything in it.

After coaches and a nurse who was on the scene stopped the bleeding, Harrison was taken back to Escambia County to the hospital emergency room. Coaches from Escambia County said they felt he would get treated quicker by riding two-and-a-half hours back home than waiting in the emergency room at Edge Regional Medical Center.

Garrett's viewpoint of the play was obscure at best. He saw the play from the wooded area of the parking lot because he was ejected after the fourth inning. David Doty was called out at home on a close play following a wild pitch, and the result of the call prevented the Trojans from scoring in a bases-loaded, one-out situation.

"Doty slid in, then the tag came," Garrett said.

The umpire saw it differently, and after Tyson Pugh grounded out to third to end the inning, Garrett complained some more and was tossed.

The Trojans were out hit in the game 11-8 but managed to score more runs. Brett Pierce gave the Trojans a 2-1 lead in the first inning when he hit a two-run triple to right field. He later scored on Daniel Porter's RBI double.

Chase Kelly helped the Trojans build on that lead in the second inning when he led off with a double. He later came around to score to make the lead 4-1.

Kelly padded the lead again in the fourth inning with a solo home run to left field. The Trojans took their biggest lead of the game at 5-1.

After Escambia County cut the lead to 5-2 in the top of the fifth, Pierce hit his second extra-base hit of the game with a leadoff double in the bottom of the inning. He came around to score on Jeremy Jones' pinch-hit RBI single.

Pierce finished the day two-for-three with two RBI and two runs scored. He almost beat out a drag bunt in the third, but he was called out on a close play at first.

Van Horn picked up the win, pitching the first four innings and leaving with a 4-1 lead. The only run was unearned and he struck out six batters.

"Pete's elbow has been a little sore, so we didn't want to push him," Garrett said.

Charles Henderson has already clinched a home first-round playoff game for April 23. The Trojans will try to earn a perfect area record Tuesday against Greenville. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.