By: Devin Smith
Following their 8-4 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, the Troy baseball team has now taken their last seven games at Riddle-Pace Field.
A portion of the credit for the win should go to Ryan Sorce (4-0), who sat down seven batters with no walks in his fourth win of the season.
“The first inning was a little rough. I was leaving the ball up in the zone as a little bit,” said Sorce. “But as the game went on I was more comfortable getting the ball down and struck some guys out.”
This was the third consecutive Tuesday start for Sorce to last only five innings, as the coaching staff continues to work him back into the rotation after suffering from Tommy John surgery in 2012.
“In the beginning, the plan was just to work him some,” said Coach Bobby Pierce. “Coming off of the surgery we were being a little passive with him but tonight we had an 8-1 lead. If it’s a 4-3 or 2-1 game at that time he may have gone to six (innings), but the game was set up nicely to get his work done and give us an opportunity to get some other guys out there.”
In nine appearances this season Sorce has accumulated 22 strikeouts to go along with a team best 2.70 ERA.
“The more I throw the better I feel,” he said. “I’m getting more comfortable with each outing, and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the season brings.”
Offensively the Trojans continued to struggle with consistency apart from a seven run fourth inning, which is something that Coach Pierce is hoping to see improvement in as the season progresses.
“The issue I had was the zeros before that and the zeros after that (fourth inning),” said Pierce. “We just have to be more consistent with our work. We had plenty of hits tonight but we just weren’t driving them in.”
Troy finished with 12 hits for the game, although the bulk of that was a result of the fourth inning.
Four Trojans finished with multi-hit games and Trae Santos helped pile in on with a deep homer over the center field wall.
Santos weighed in on what his it will take for his team to spread out the hits over the course of a game rather than in spurts.
“Basically we’re just swinging a little bit out of the zone right now,” said Santos. “And it’s easily correctable, but most times that is easier said than done. We have good swings every time. I think it’s just a swinging at strikes issue.”
Tyler Vaughn added another run to his season scoring total, good for second in the nation. Logan Pierce also continued his outstanding on-base streak, now at 36, which is also second best in the nation.
The win gave the Trojans (22-9) the season sweep over the Gamecocks (16-16), which is something that resonates with older fans of Troy baseball.
The contest was the first in over a week at home for Troy, and they spent their weekend in Lafayette, La., in a three-game series with Louisiana-Lafayette that ended better than it began for the Trojans.
Game one on Friday was Troy’s to lose early after a four-run second inning sparked by Brandon Brown’s three-run homerun.
However five straight hits to open the sixth inning allowed the Cajuns to wrestle the lead from the Trojans at 6-5. A suicide squeeze in the seventh earned ULL a run and some breathing room at 7-5.
Santos belted a homer to open the eighth and decrease the margin by one, but it proved to be the final run for Troy in the 7-6 loss. Tanner Hicks (3-2) was given the loss, but played well despite the debacle in the sixth.
The following day quickly got out of hand for the Trojans, and 14 Cajun hits helped lead ULL to a 9-2 win.
Seth Harrison was responsible for more than half of the runs scored by the Cajuns with a solo homer to lead off the second followed by a grand slam in the fifth.
Austin Robicheaux struck out eight Trojans in the midst of 125 pitches in his complete game win for ULL.
Troy came out firing on all cylinders for the final game of the series and closed the game just as emphatically.
The Trojans turned six straight hits in the opening inning into four runs and scored in each of the final three frames to avoid the sweep and gain the 10-4 win.
Shane McCain (6-0) allowed 14 hits to ULL but kept the runners at bay to earn the victory and stay perfect on the year.
The win ended the Cajuns 11-game home winning streak, which was good for second best in the country at the time.
Troy will continue its gauntlet of games on Wednesday evening at Samford followed by another three-game conference series over the weekend, this time against Western Kentucky.
First pitch for Western Kentucky is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.