AUBURN, Ala. – Shane Lewis and Kole Myers hit home runs, and Troy’s bullpen combined to allow just one unearned run in 8.1 innings of work as the Trojans knocked off Auburn, 8-7, Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.
With the win, Troy (29-13) moves to No. 29 in the RPI, winning for the seventh time in the last nine games. The victory is Troy’s first at Auburn in exactly six years, with the last one coming on April 25, 2017.
“It’s rare you get 8.1 innings out of your bullpen without allowing an earned run,” head coach Skylar Meade said. “I know we ended up with a couple of errors on the scoreboard, but I thought we made a lot of good defensive plays. The bats were really good; I thought our guys were incredibly dialed in offensively one through nine in the lineup.”
Auburn (23-17-1) scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning to race out to a 6-1 advantage, but Troy answered with four in the second on a pair of 2-run homers from Myers and Lewis, and then scored three in the sixth on a bases-loaded balk and 2-run single from William Sullivan.
The Troy bullpen was the story of the night as four relievers combined to hold the Tigers to an unearned run and five hits over the game’s final 8.1 innings. Noah Manning restored order in the bottom of the first inning after Auburn’s six-run outburst and pitched through the fifth, scattering three hits and striking out two.
Matt Mercer followed with two innings where he allowed an unearned run following a walk, stolen base, throwing error and sacrifice fly in the seventh. He had to work around an error in his first inning but struck out the dangerous Bryson Ware with runners on the corners to end the frame.
Brandon Schrepf struck out two in the eighth, and Zach Fruit hit 97 MPH in the ninth to lock down his second save of the season.
In the sixth, Ethan Kavanagh drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a grounder and Clay Stearns drew a walk to put two on and force Auburn to go to the bullpen for Troy native Drew Nelson. A passed ball moved the runners up a base, and Nelson balked in Kavanagh to tie the game ahead of Sullivan’s game-winning single.
Caleb Bartolero put the Trojans on the board with a 2-out single in the top of the first inning, and then in the second, Stearns reached on a one-out single ahead of Meyer’s 10th homer of the season; he’s now the fourth Trojan to reach double-figures in home runs. Following the second out of the frame, Sullivan singled and Shane Lewis did Shane Lewis things.
The Trojan sophomore hit one about 420 feet just to the right of the foul pole in right field; three pitches later, he straightened it out for his 19th home run of the season deep over the wall in right. His tally breaks the record for the most home runs by a Trojan in the BBCOR era – Trae Santos hit 18 during the 2013 season. Lewis entered the day tied for sixth nationally in home runs on the season.
Troy hits the road this weekend for another in-state battle, this time against rival South Alabama in a three-game Sun Belt series at Stanky Field. The Trojans enter the weekend in a five-way tie for third place in the league standings.