Trojans semi-bound after sweep on road
Opelika – The Trojans of Charles Henderson path to a state championship went through Opeilka on Friday night as the team had a date with the Beauregard Hornets.
Just like the previous two series, the Trojans were able to advance thanks to a sweep, however its how the games played out that was the real story.
In game one, CHHS was able to hold off a charging BHS team 15-10 while in the second game, it was the Trojans who were charging to victory, winning 11-9.
“This was our focus all week long – staying focused after getting hit,” said head coach Derek Irons after the second victory.
“There are no more easy games in the quarterfinals in the 5A tournament, that’s just the way it is.”
In the first game, the Trojans were able to take advantage of several BHS errors in the first inning to the tune of five runs.
On the mound for CHHS was senior Mitch McLeod.
In his two previous starts, McLeod had pitched two complete games, both of which were victories.
And while McLeod would get his third postseason win in as many weeks, towards the end, it did not come easy.
After four innings, the Trojans were cruising thanks to a 9-1 lead, however, that would not last for long.
The Hornets would battle back, scoring nine combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
McLeod gave up season highs in both hits, giving up 16 and in runs, allowing nine in five and two thirds, however he did have four strikeouts.
The Trojans would respond to the Hornets’ seven run sixth inning, with three runs of their own in the top half of the seventh, to increase the lead to 15-10.
Harrison Reeves, who replaced McLeod in the sixth inning, would saw off the final three BHS batter to secure the first win.
“You guys battled from the first pitch until the last night,” Irons told his team after victory. “Now, just stay focused.”
Jalin Lawson led the way for the Trojans, going 3-4 at the plate including a monster home run to left field in the first inning.
Chance Shaver finished the going 1-1 with two walks and two RBIs, while Nathan Barron also finished with two RBIs, going 1-3 at the plate.
The Hornets had the bases loaded in the third and fourth inning, however could not put any runs on the board.
It wasn’t until the sixth-inning that BHS was able to take advantage with the bags full.
CHHS was able to get the victory despite being out hit 16-11.
“At this point in the season, every team left is a great team,” Irons said about Beauregard’s rally in the sixth-inning.
“We talked about taking punches this week, and we were punched in the sixth inning of the game – I was so proud of how the guys kept their focused and responded right after that inning.”
Game two did not start off as kindly for the Trojans.
With Barron on the mound, the Hornets struck first, scoring five runs in the first inning, off of two hits, three walks and an error.
CHHS was able to get one run back in the bottom of the inning, when Barron knocked in K.D. Edenfield, who reached on an error to lead the inning off.
A 20 minute rain delay took place shortly afterward and when it was over with, a different Trojan team emerged from the visiting dugout.
After following behind 7-1, CHHS came up in the bottom of the third inning and took care of business.
The Trojans sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning, putting a 10-spot on the board and in the process taking a 11-7 lead.
In the inning, Edenfield and Jalin Lawson each drove in two runs off of singles, while another four runs came off of BHS errors.
Chase Connell capped the inning off with a two-run home run to right field.
“When I saw it was gone, I had no idea what to think,” Connell said about this home run. “It was an awesome feeling.”
Blake Hutchinson came in to throw after the inning and shut the Hornets down for the next two innings.
BHS did try to mount one last come back in the sixth innings, as the team scored two runs off of Hutchinson, but again, Reeves would come in in relief and shut the door on BHS and send the Trojans off into the semi-finals.
“I was excited and proud to know that my coaches had that much faith in me to bring me in at the end of those two games,” Reeves said.
“(BHS) battled back – they are a good team. But we were able to hold them off and get the win.
“It’s a great feeling right now,” the junior added.
No CHHS batter had multiple hits in the game, as the team was out hit again by BHS, this time 11-8.
Edenfield, Barron, and Jalin Lawson each finished 1-4.
“Every guy who was a part of this game did their job – and that is why we won,” Irons said.
“We took our punches early in this game and we punched right back. There were so many chances where we could have just laid but we didn’t.
“I am just so proud of everything this team has done ,” the coach added.