Off and running

Published 10:56 pm Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday began the start of the 2010 AHSAA baseball playoffs and also the beginning of Charles Henderson’s quest to win its first state championship since 2004.

By Friday night, the Trojans were one step closer.

CHHS played host to Area 4 runner-up Monroe County at Frazier Field, and thanks to a sweep of the double-header by the scores of 4-1 and 8-4, the Trojans will be preparing for second round action next weekend.

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“We were expecting close games,” head coach Derek Irons said. “Every game is going to be a battle from here on out.”

“I thought our effort was outstanding (Friday night). “We competed very well – I’m very pleased with these two games,” the coach said.

Mitch McLeod got the start for the Trojans in game one and set the tone early for his team.

The senior didn’t allow a base hit until the third inning in the victory, pitching a complete game while striking out eight and giving up one run on two hits.

Chance Shaver set the tone for CHHS at the plate, thanks to his first-inning home run that gave the Trojans an early lead.

The Tigers would fight back however to tie the game in top of the fourth, but that would be the last time MCHS would cross the plate in game one.

The Trojans were able to put three runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a Nathan Barron solo home run, followed by RBI singles from Jalin Lawson and Michael Fox.

That would be all the support McLeod needed as he set the Tigers down in order in the top half of the seventh.

In game two, again the Trojans were able to set the tone early thanks to the long ball, as Barron hit his second home run of the day to give the Trojans an early led in the top of the first.

In the top half of the next inning, Lawson continued his hot streak at the plate by hitting a home run to left-center field to give CHHS a 2-0 advantage.

After taking a 4-0 lead to the bottom of the third, the Tigers answered back with four runs of their own to tie the game.

Barron, who started the game on the mound, would be taken out after the third inning due to cramps.

The senior threw three innings, striking out three while giving up four runs on three hits.

Harrison Reeves would answer the call for the Trojans in relief however.

The score would remain tied at four all, until the top of the fifth when McLeod, who started off the inning with a leadoff double, came around to score thanks to a Chase Connell double.

Lawson would again strike two innings later with a RBI-single to give the Trojans a 6-4 lead.

The very next batter, Reeves helped out his own cause with a two-run homer, to give CHHS an 8-4 lead.

“Both Mitch and Harrison threw great (Friday night),” Irons said.

“Nathan did a great job as well. He competed for three innings until he had to be taken out due to cramps, but he gave us everything he had. And that’s what we want out of all of our guys.”

In the final two innings of the second game, Reeves threw just eight pitches.

At the plate, Lawson led the way, finishing the day going 6-7, with a home run, three RBIs and two stolen bases, while his teammate, Barron, finished 3-7 with two home runs

“Everyone worked their butts off (Friday night),” Lawson said. “Everyone played hard.”

The Trojans out hit the Tigers 21-7, and out homered MCHS 4-0.

“We look at home runs as bonuses,” the coach said.

“We are not going to live and die by them – we are more interested in having quality at bats.”

The Trojans will get their chance to advance another step next weekend, when it plays host to the winner of the Greenville/ Rehobeth series, which was knotted up at one game a piece after a Friday night double-header.

“We just want to survive and advance at this point.

“I don’t care if we win 2-1 or 19-3, we just want to survive. We will do whatever it takes to extend the season,” Irons said.