67-run sweep; baseball wins 4 against Northern Kentucky

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(Photo/Pawan Khanal)

The baseball team recorded 10 runs in more in four-consecutive games. The last time the Trojans did this was in 2013 against FAMU and Texas Tech.

Scott Shelton

Sports Editor

The Troy baseball team opened the 2020 season with a four-game sweep over Northern Kentucky last weekend, scoring 67 runs in four games over the Norse.

The 67-run mark is the most the Trojans have scored in a four-game stretch in 14 years. In 2006, the Trojans scored 69 runs in four games against Memphis and Georgia Southern.

Head Coach Mark Smartt said this is the best start to a season in a long time.

“I can’t recall a season where we’ve started like this,” Smartt said. “Up and down the lineup.

“It’s been as good of a start as I can remember.”

On opening night against the Norse, the Trojans scored 18 runs in an offensive showcase.

Just as impressive was the performance on the pitcher’s mound from junior pitcher Levi Thomas.

Thomas set his personal best in strikeouts with 14 batters fanned in just five innings. Thomas struck out the first seven batters he faced in the game.

“It was a great way to kick off the 2020 season,” Smartt said. “Levi is special — he was great tonight with 14 strikeouts.”

For his efforts, Thomas has been named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week.

The Collegiate Baseball magazine named Thomas as one of its national players of the week, as well.

Nine other Trojans have received this honor in the past decade, most recently Chase Smartt last May.

On offense, the team was led by both familiar and new faces.

Junior Easton Kirk and freshman Kyle Mock both shone with three RBIs each in their Troy debut.

Kirk started his Trojan career with a three-RBI double, and Mock immediately followed with a two-run home run in his very first at bat as a Trojan.

Seniors Drew Frederic and Dalton Sinquefield started their final campaigns with two RBIs each.

On Saturday, the Trojans faced a doubleheader with Northern Kentucky in which the Trojans combined to defeat the Norse 29-5 in the two games.

In Saturday’s first game, the Trojans scored 15 runs in the first four innings and shut out the Norse for the first eight innings.

Junior Orlando Ortiz earned the win in his first start for the Trojans. Ortiz pitched six innings and struck out seven batters while only allowing one hit.

Offensively, the Trojans recorded 11 hits, and 15 batters walked. That marks the most batters walked since Samford in 2016.

Freshman catcher Caleb Bartolero earned his first career home run in style with a grand slam in the first inning.

Bartolero had three hits for the game and led the team with six RBIs. Five different players recorded two RBIs in the Trojans’ 18-6 win.

The team scored 35 runs in the first two games, which is the most since the team had 33 in back-to-back games against FAMU in 2013.

The second game of the doubleheader resulted in the Trojans’ lowest scoring output of the series with 12 runs, but the defense held Northern Kentucky to two runs.

Senior Max Newton earned the win for the Trojans, pitching five innings and striking out three.

Northern Kentucky took its first lead of any game in Saturday’s nightcap.

The Trojans responded with seven runs of their own and five more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to take a 12-2 win.

Sophomore Taylor Pridgen led the Trojans with three RBI coming from his first career home run he belted in the eighth inning.

Kirk continued his roll by setting the team’s mark on batting average at .545. The junior had two hits and a RBI.

Sunday’s finale against Northern Kentucky looked like a shootout for the first few innings as the teams traded the lead.

The Trojans started off in a 4-0 hole to the Norse before Kirk drove in three runners on a left-center double.

After four more Norse runs, the Trojans went on an 10-0 run between the fourth and sixth innings.

Five runs in the seventh and eighth innings sealed the game for the Trojans as they capped off a 67-run weekend.

Freshman Will Sullivan was the Trojans’ catalyst for the game, batting a perfect 5-5 on the game. Sullivan had four doubles and drove in five runs to lead the team in RBIs for the day.

Sullivan tied the school record for doubles with four in a game and became the first Trojan since 2008 to reach the mark.

Junior Marquez Oates earned the win for the Trojans after pitching 2.1innings and recording four strikeouts and only one earned run.

Next, the Trojans continue their home stand with a series against Louisiana Tech this weekend.

The Trojans and Bulldogs are scheduled to square off Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

 

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