Sweet sixteen

Published 10:19 pm Friday, April 4, 2014

 Chase Hartley takes aim at the plate during Friday’s win over Headland. Hartley picked up the win in a relief effort. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Chase Hartley takes aim at the plate during Friday’s win over Headland. Hartley picked up the win in a relief effort. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Charles Henderson sweeps Headland, locks up playoff spot for the 16th straight season

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t clean. But Derek Irons will take a win anyway it comes.

Charles Henderson pieced together six consecutive quality at-bats in the bottom of the fifth inning to push two runs across, and seal a 5-3 win over Headland. The win moved Charles Henderson’s area record to 4-0 and clinches a playoff spot for the Trojans.

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Irons likes having the playoffs locked up early.

“You can’t win a tournament that you aren’t in,” Irons said. “You have to make the playoffs. That is the most important thing every year, and we have done that again. It is not automatic. You have to earn it every year, and these guys have done it again.”

Charles Henderson picked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on a Chase Smartt double to open the scoring. Smartt’s double brought home Hunter Baggett and John Johnson, who reached on a single and error respectively.

Headland pushed a run across in the third inning, and took advantage of a handful of Trojan miscues to tie the game in the top of the fourth.

Charles Henderson committed one error in the field, and a couple of mental mistakes, to allow the Rams to tie the game without recording a hit in the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, following a fiery speech from Irons in between innings, Charles Henderson’s sticks came alive once again.

A single by Baggett and fielder’s choice from Smartt put runners on the corners for Austin Ingram.

Ingram sent a deep fly ball to right field to score Baggett and break the tie.

Xavius Burden picked up an RBI on a single later in the inning, scoring Smartt.

While all the at-bats in the inning didn’t result in hits, Irons said all had an impact on the team.

“I don’t know any of our guy’s averages, and I don’t care what they are,” Irons said. “Averages can lie to you. We want out guys to have the philosophy of helping the team. Moving runners over, sacrificing, laying down bunts don’t show up in the average, but it wins ball games. You string enough of those QAB’s together, good things happen.”

Chase Hartley pitched three-and-a-third innings in relief to pick up the win, while Ingram recorded the final out and notched the save.

Hartley struck out just one batter, but drew praise from Irons for his toughness.

“I am so proud of the way Chase competed tonight,” said Irons. “He gets thrown in to a tough situation, and settled right in and got us out of it. He threw great the rest of the way. Our pitchers understand their roles. He got us to Austin, and Austin shut it down and we get to celebrate. No one is selfish.”

Baggett led the Trojans with two hits in four plate appearances, while Smartt picked up a pair of RBIs.

Ingram, Burden and Jason Fleming also knocked runs in.

Charles Henderson also won the second game of the double-header 9-3.

Blake Craft got the win, throwing three innings and giving up just a pair of hits.

Ingram picked up the save.

Nick Lewis went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs to lead Charles Henderson at the plate in the second game