By: Caleb Odom
The opening weekend for Troy Baseball was a royal beat down of visiting Florida A&M in a four game sweep, but it came at a price.
In the finale on Sunday, Trojan left-handed, centerfielder Ali Knowles injured his glove hand attempting to catch a ball.
Knowles left the game that Troy would win, but his injury leaves a question mark in the outfield.
“It does impact our team,” assistant coach Mark Smartt said. “Anytime you lose any player there is an impact. Ali has not had great luck during his career here.”
Known for his first class speed and stellar defense in the field, Knowles had appeared to turn a corner as a hitter, but injury is another setback in his injury-plagued career.
In the opening weekend against the Rattlers, Knowles had a double, triple and 5 RBI for a .545 average in 11 at bats.
“Ali getting hurt is going to be a big hole in center field obviously,” Troy outfielder Danny Collins said. “He is one of the best defensive center fielders, probably, in the nation.”
Knowles saw the Trojans’ orthopedic specialist Dr. Dugas in Birmingham on Tuesday for, according to Coach Smartt, is a broken ring finger.
The doctors estimate Knowles to be out for at least three to four weeks with the injury to his right glove hand.
Even when Knowles returns he will have to find a comfort level while hitting.
“Swinging the bat will be the last part of the equation,” Smartt said.
What the Knowles’ injury does do is open the door of opportunity for players like Clay Holcomb, Jo-El Bennett, Josh McDorman and Chase Mathis to fill in at center field and to solidify left field.
Another notable injury was that starting catcher Jake Harrell played in only one game because of a ball hitting his left forearm.
According to coach Bobby Pierce, Harrell has a deep bone bruise on his glove hand, so he had difficulty gripping with it. Backup catcher Justin Hancock started the other three games.
Hancock had two doubles and 3 RBI in nine at bats for a .444 average.
The upcoming weekend is on the road for the Trojans when they head to Orlando, Fla. for the UCF Tournaments starting on Friday.
Will Starling is the starting pitcher against Texas Tech on Friday at 11 a.m., Shane McCain on Saturday against Connecticut at noon and Tanner Hicks on Sunday against Central Florida at 2 p.m.