By Doug Gorman
It looks like the pieces are starting to fall into place for the Henry County High School baseball team.
After starting off slowly to open the season, Henry County is on a roll, winning four games in a row, including three against county rivals.
The Warhawks' biggest win of the season came Tuesday night against Luella in a key Region 3-AAAA contest as Henry County defeated the Lions 8-3.
Luella, which entered the region contest as the state's No. 4-ranked team in the Class AAAA poll, dropped to 10-2 overall and 1-1 in region play. Henry County improved to 4-4 overall and 1-0 in the Region 3-AAAA standings.
"We aren't going to apologize for the scheduled we played," said Henry County head coach Troy Baker. "We aren't state-ranked and we got off to a slow start, but our level of competition is starting to pay off."
Senior pitcher Matt Clark went the distance for the Warkhawks, pitching around some early trouble to record the victory. Clark allowed just three hits and finished the game with nine strikeouts and six walks.
"This was a big win for us," Clark said. "We had never played Luella before, but they are in our region now, so beating them to get the region started was important."
The Warhawks pounded out 10 hits with most of their offensive production coming from the bottom half of the lineup. With Henry County already leading 6-3, Greg Huff, who bats in the seventh spot for the Warhawks, delivered the knockout punch in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run homer to round out the scoring. Henry County short stop Kyle Price helped kill a couple of Luella rallies by starting double plays in the third and fourth innings.
"It says a lot about Kyle," said Baker. "We have been DHing for him, but he does a great job with the glove. He is a senior and a team player."
The double play in the third inning ended an inning that started off with three straight walks. Clark recovered by striking out Ted Hodges for the first out of the inning and then getting Christian Harris to ground into the double play.
Luella took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Josh Heath singled to drive in Seth Freeman and Wade Lane. Henry County cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first when Greg Lindsey walked and later scored.
The Lions scored their last run of the game in the top of second when Matt Kralick's sacrifice fly scored Hodges to give Luella a 3-1 lead.Henry County tied the game with two runs in the second inning when Coleton Segars singled to drive in two runs.
The Warhawks broke the game open with three runs in the third. Clark singled, Huff and Blake Newalu doubled and Cam Wilder reached on an error to help pace the scoring. Greg Lindsey grounded out in the third, but also drove in a run.
Offensively, Newalu led the Henry County offense with two doubles.
"This was a team effort tonight," he said. "Everybody hit the ball and that was the key. Huff's home run was huge."
In addition to his homer, Huff also doubled and scored in the third. Clark helped his own cause with two singles and two runs scored.
Heath was the Lions' leading hitter with two singles.