Troy baseball drops conference series, loses at home to UAB

(PHOTO/ Troy Athletics)
Sophomore Brandon Lockridge went 2-4 at the plate Saturday afternoon in Troy’s 5-3 win over Georgia State, batting in two runners and scoring another run himself.
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Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy baseball team dropped a weekend series to conference foe Georgia State, two games to one, before losing to in-state rival UAB in Riddle-Pace Field. The Trojans then bounced back Wednesday night with a 10-5 victory at Jacksonville State.

Troy (18-17, 6-9 Sun Belt) fell short in the first two matchups against the Panthers, allowing them to clinch the series after a loss in game two. The Trojans bounced back in the final game to avoid the sweep before falling to the Blazers on Tuesday.

Troy kicked off Thursday night’s action with a two-run first inning to take the lead. The Panthers soon matched the score with an inning of their own, knotting the score at two runs each. Troy failed to keep pace with Georgia State after the Panthers scattered runs in the fourth and fifth innings before scoring five in the seventh. Georgia State held Troy to just one run after the opening frame to snap an 11-game skid.

Brandon Lockridge and Matt Sanders teamed up to lead the Trojan offense with a pair of hits each. The duo chipped in one RBI each with Sanders going 2-2 at the plate, reaching base four times on two hits and two walks.

Corey Childress was charged with the loss after allowing four runs in the opening four innings. The Panthers held a slim 4-3 lead before icing the game with the five run effort in the seventh. One of the five hits in the inning came from Georgia State’s Darius Sewell who drove in two on a homerun.

The 9-3 final score marked the Panthers’ first win over Troy since 2014.

Game two followed a much different trend than the previous matchup, resulting in Georgia State breaking a 12-inning stalemate with a walk off single. The Panthers clinched the series after a two-out RBI single came off the bat of Jarrett Hood in the bottom of the 12th frame.

Daren Osby delivered six scoreless innings on the mound for Troy, followed by closer Marc Skinner. Skinner also moved into second place in Troy history for most appearances in school history with 99. Skinner needs just three more to tie Nate Hill.

Despite a near-record 19 runners left on base, Skinner was charged with the loss after allowing four hits and the game winner.

Steven Whitaker chipped in three hits to lead the Trojans. Of Troy’s seven hits, a solo homer from Justin Friend along with Whitaker’s hits paced the offense.

After breaking the 2-2 tie to win the game, Georgia State clinched their first conference series of the year.

Troy rallied in game three to salvage the series, avoiding a potential first series sweep of the season in a similar late game fashion. Troy rallied, scoring four ninth-inning runs in the come-from-behind victory on Saturday night.

Troy tacked on a single run in the opening run and failed to score again until it mattered most. Trailing 1-3, a double off the bat of Lockridge drove Whitaker home to kick off the rally. After two walked batters, Tyler Koch entered the game for Georgia State to prevent Troy from taking the game.

With the bases loaded, Troy’s John Tatum, who cracked the starting lineup for the first time, tied the game after an RBI single. Troy added two more runs before the Panthers could end the inning.

Cory Gill picked up the save after shutting down Georgia State in the final frame, striking out the last batter on three pitches to secure Troy’s 5-3 victory.

“I thought we had some really tough, clutch, determined at-bats,” Troy Head Coach Mark Smartt said. “I’m really proud of that comeback in the ninth. We finally get a positive feeling around our team and a positive moment to head into this five-game week coming up.”

The Trojans also hosted the UAB Blazers in a midweek matchup, their second on the year. Troy took the first meeting between the two squads in Birmingham, but UAB scored six in a four inning stretch to steal the sweep from the Trojans, winning 6-1.

Lockridge got the Trojans on the board first in the third inning on a solo homerun, Troy’s only run on the night.

UAB responded by scattering six runs in the fourth through seventh innings, leaving the one-run Trojans without an answer.

Houston Mabray was charged with the loss after allowing three runs on four hits during his four innings on the hill.

Troy righted the ship the next day, however, racking up 10 runs on 15 hits on the road against Jacksonville State. Five Trojan pitchers saw action Wednesday night, with all of them combining for nine strikeouts.

Max Newman got his first win of the season after pitching four of those strikeouts during his five-inning showing on the mound.

The Gamecocks raced out to a 4-1 lead after the four inning, but Troy bounced right back by scoring seven unanswered runs in the second and third innings.  JSU cut the lead to two runs after A.J. Reynolds hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Again, Troy responded in a big way, putting up two more runs in the top of the eighth to seal the victory.

Troy gears up for another three game Sun Belt series when the Bobcats of Texas State come to town tomorrow. Friday night’s game is set to begin at 6 p.m., followed by Saturday and Sunday’s games. Fans can catch all three matchups on ESPN3.