SEASON OVER: Charles Henderson High school ends season with losses to St. Paul’s Episcopal School
Published 3:00 am Saturday, May 2, 2015
BY DAN SMITH
MOBILE – St. Paul’s Episcopal School used strong pitching and a distinct home field advantage to claim 2-0 and 10-5 wins over Charles Henderson High School Friday in the Class 5A state playoffs, ending what has been a historic run for the CHHS Trojans.
The game pitted No. 1 CHHS vs. No. 2 St. Paul’s, two teams with rich traditions and state championship trophies to show for their past efforts.
“I hope our guys understand what a privilege this was,” said CHHS Head Coach Derek Irons. “No. 1 vs. No. 2 does not happen much. The reality is the things that have been done by our program in the past, we expect to go deep in the playoffs, but it is not guaranteed. I wish the outcome had of been different, but they played better than we did, and that’s baseball.”
The senior class of CHHS ends their career with many team and school records, including state championships in 2013 and 2014, they were the first CHHS team to ever be ranked No. 1 in the state, and the first squad to ever hold multiple national rankings.
Seniors playing their last game include Austin Ingram, Chase Smarttt, Jason Fleming, Wright Graning, Cole Wilson and Reilly Fox.
Smartt has played six years for the CHHS varsity program, and came out of the game in the top of the seventh inning with a knee injury following a play at the plate during a Saint’s rally.
The senior catcher tried to stay in the game but several pitches later realized he could not, and he and Coach Irons embraced as Smartt began to leave the field. Irons spoke into Smartt’s ear at length, brining applause from fans on both sides.
“Chase is the best player I have ever coached,” Irons said after the game. “He is Mr. Baseball in the state of Alabama. With his body of work, what he has done, I think he is the best player in the state. Even better than that, he is a great kid. He’s extremely close to me and my family, as a lot of these players are, but Chase is special. I know he is such a competitor, and for him to even call time, I knew he was hurt. I knew he wanted to finish it so bad, and he couldn’t. All we ever ask our players to do is give it everything they have got, and Chase Smartt gave Charles Henderson baseball everything he had, literally for six years, up until the last pitch. There is nothing more I could have asked for from a kid for the last six years, and tonight, that what he has done for us.”
St. Paul’s got strong pitching in the first game to take the 2-0 win.
CHHS had runners on first and second base to lead off the first game, but could not score, when Nick Lewis signed and Smartt drew his first of three consecutive walks, but St. Paul starting pitcher Payton Robinson stuck out the next batter, and Chase Hartley scorched a line drive that the St. Paul second baseman nabbed to end the inning.
St. Paul’s took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Noah Michael was hit by a pitch, Blaine Crim walked, B.J. Edmonds reached on a fielder’s choice, and Michael scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Evans.
The Trojans again got two base runners in the top of the third inning when Lewis and Reilly Fox singled, but Robinson worked out of the jam to leave two CHHS baserunners stranded.
CHHS again got two base runners in the fifth inning when Bryson Gandy reached on a bunt single, Smartt was intentionally walked again with two outs, and a ground out retired the side.
The Saints took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Evans was hit by a pitch, reached second on a ground out, advanced to third on a single by Hunter Boudreau, and scored on a ground out to first base.
The hard-throwing left-handed Robinson allowed only five CHHS hits, as Lewis had two, while Fox, DeAndre Pitts and Gandy had one hit each.
Robinson struck out seven Trojans and walked three.
St. Paul’s scored two runs on only six hits, as Austin Ingram and Jason Fleming worked on the hill for the Trojans.
In the second game the Trojans took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Fox, Smartt and Ingram hit singles, and Hartley singled to score Fox. Smartt then scored on a wild pitch, and Pitts hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Ingram.
St. Paul’s tied the score at 3-3 in the top of the third inning when Edmonds was hit by a pitch, Evans doubled, Robinson tripled, and Boudreau singled to drive in the third run.
The Saints added three more in the top of the fourth inning for a 6-3 lead when Thompson singled and Crim hit a two-run homer to left field. Edmonds then walked, advanced to third on an errant pick-off throw, and scored on a ground out to second base for the 6-3 advantage.
St. Paul added four more runs in the top of the seventh inning when Robinson doubled, J.D. Jernigan and Eaton each reached on bunt singles and Thompson hit a three-run homer for the 10-3 lead.
CHHS added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning when Wilson walked, Gandy singled, and both later scored for the 10-5 final score.
The Trojans managed only five hits in the second game with Fox, Smartt, Ingram, Hartley and Fleming collecting one hit apiece.
Wilson, Hartley and Fleming worked on the mound for the Trojans.
CHHS ends the year at 35-4, which St. Paul’s improves to 39-2 and advances to the semi-final round next Friday.