Bobby Pierce passes Chase Riddle for most wins in school history

Wes Fortson

Staff Writer

Head coach Bobby Pierce became the winningest coach in Troy history, surpassing previous baseball coach Chase Riddle on Sunday, March 29.

Earlier last week the Troy baseball team took on Jacksonville State and Florida A&M in a couple of midweek games, but fell in both games 8-1 and 2-1, respectively.

However, a day off was plenty of time for the Trojans to recuperate and regroup themselves as they approached a four-game weekend series against Alabama A&M.

The first game between Troy and Alabama A&M started on Friday, March 27, in an offensive showdown by the Trojans, who had a 10-2 victory.

Freshman left fielder Reid Long kick-started the scoring on the seventh pitch of the game with a two-run shot to right field to bring the score to 2-0.

In the third inning, junior shortstop Peyton Fuller stepped up and hit a two-RBI single to right center to make the score 4-0.

Later in the game after the Bulldogs scored a lone run in the fourth, Troy answered with five runs in the fifth inning.

Long sparked the hitting  with a leadoff triple to right center. Junior right fielder Logan Hill then followed it up with a double to bring Long home.

Following Hill’s hit, Fuller stepped in a few batters later and loaded the bases after reaching on a fielding error.

Then junior designated hitter Windham Jackson reached on another fielding error by Alabama A&M’s third baseman to score junior pinch runner Burt Givens and boost the score to 6-1.

Following the pair of errors by the Bulldogs, sophomore third baseman TJ Binder hit a sacrifice line drive to center field to score senior second baseman Nick Masonia.

Troy scored another pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth before Alabama A&M could stop the bleeding.

The scoring didn’t stop there, though; Hill ripped a double to left center, scoring Long, in the bottom of the eighth to put the final nail in the coffin.

On Saturday, March 28, the two teams faced off in what turned out to be an eventful doubleheader, with Troy winning both.

In the first game, both teams scored one run in the first inning, but were kept quiet in a pitching battle between junior Trojan pitcher Lucas Brown and junior Bulldog pitcher Josh Burchell.

Brown struck out nine batters in his fantastic eight-inning outing and allowed only five hits.

Long came in clutch in the ninth inning and finished off the Bulldogs with a walk-off homer.

Long’s solo home run in the ninth brought the crowd of nearly 1,700 fans to life as Troy won 2-1.

Game two of the doubleheader resulted in an 8-1 Trojan victory, as Troy racked up the runs.

Troy dominated with a great outing by junior pitcher Austin Crook and a hot Trojan offense.

Hill brought home the first run for Troy in the second inning when he lifted a solo shot out of the park to left field.

Hill was later followed up by redshirt freshman center fielder Shaw Pinnell, who hit an RBI single to right field to score Fuller and put Troy up 2-0.

Binder tacked on a run for Troy in the fifth, and junior designated hitter Hoke Granger launched a three-run home run out of left field in the sixth to stretch the Trojan lead to 6-0.

Alabama A&M scored its lone run off a solo home run by senior right fielder Andrew Utterback in the seventh inning. Troy quickly compensated for this when freshman shortstop Matt Sanders hit an RBI double to score Binder.

Long topped off the scoring with an RBI single to center field, scoring junior pinch hitter Cameron Sanders.

The series finale on Sunday, March 29, was one for the ages.

Pierce broke the record for the most wins in school history in a 4-1 victory and a series sweep of Alabama A&M.

The Sunday win wasn’t an easy one for Troy, though, as the game stayed tied at one all the way through the seventh.

Both sides of the diamond remained unproductive on the scoreboard until the Bulldogs broke through in the top of the fifth. However, Troy answered quickly in the bottom of the inning on a double steal by freshman catcher Brody Binder and Fuller. Binder stole second and Fuller stole home to tie the score and keep Troy in the game.

Senior pitcher Jeremy McGowan came in to relieve freshman pitcher Corey Childress and shut out the Bulldogs in the final three innings, giving Troy a chance to take away the lead.

The eighth inning was an eventful one for Troy, as it scored three runs on four errors and stole the win from Alabama A&M.

The victory sealed Pierce’s fate in the record books with his 435th win as Troy’s head coach.

The record broke previous legendary head coach Chase Riddle’s record as the winningest coach in Troy history.

“Coach Riddle was a big part of my life and my coaching career,” Pierce said. “He was always there as a mentor with encouraging words.

“My love and admiration for him as a man and a baseball coach is at the top of the meter. To have my son coaching by my side and Coach Smartt here the entire time means the world.”

Pierce has averaged 35 wins per season as Troy’s head coach and has helped several players move on to the next level and play professionally, including current New York Yankees pitcher Chase Whitley.

“It’s a wonderful day for Troy and for me personally,” assistant coach Mark Smartt said. “I played for Coach Riddle and have been side by side with Coach Pierce for 13 years, so it’s an emotional day for me.”

On Tuesday, March 31, Troy fell at home against Alabama State 9-3.

Troy was able to score only in the second and third innings, while the Hornets scored seven of their runs in the ninth.

The Trojans will be back in action against Appalachian State on Friday, April 3, when they travel to Boone, North Carolina, to try and bring home another conference series win.

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