Down the middle! Baseball splits opening weekend with Central Michigan

Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

The Troy baseball team split its opening-weekend series at Riddle-Pace Field against Central Michigan, using late-game heroics to win the first two before dropping the final two games.

In the first game, both teams’ pitchers put on a clinic.

Sophomore pitcher Levi Thomas struck out three batters before the Chippewas were able to get a hit on the board.

Thomas finished with seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings for his season debut.

Of his eight career starts, Thomas now has five games with seven strikeouts.

The sophomore held the Chippewas scoreless, and in three of his innings, Thomas ended the inning with Chippewas on base.

Central Michigan held strong on defense too.

Chippewas pitcher Pat Leatherman struck out seven in his five innings pitched and held the Trojans hitless.

Leatherman kept Troy off the board until the fifth inning when Logan Cerny hit a sacrifice fly to send Chase Smartt home.

Central Michigan responded in the sixth inning with a run off a wild throw.

In the seventh inning, designated hitter Reed Smith hit Troy’s first home run of the season and brought in the Trojans’ final two runs of the game, giving Troy the 3-2 win.

The bats came out on Saturday in the second game of the series as the Trojans and Chippewas scored a combined 10 runs in the first two innings.

Central Michigan jumped out to a 5-0 lead following two bases-loaded walks and a triple by Zavier Warren.

The Trojans responded with a three-run homer from freshman Tanner Jackson and a two-RBI double by Rigsby Mosley to tie the game at five runs apiece.

The bats cooled off until the fifth inning when Warren of the Chippewas again connected and hit a solo home run.

Central Michigan loaded the bases, but junior pitcher Zack Lightsey got the Trojans out of a jam and ended the inning allowing just one run.

In response, Jackson again came up big for the Trojans, hitting another RBI to tie the game.

With two outs in the eighth inning, Drew Frederic hit a RBI double to take the lead and seal the game for the Trojans.

In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Trojans put up a run early from senior Sadler Goodwin’s RBI double but were held scoreless until the seventh inning.

The Chippewas mounted a 5-1 lead in the seventh inning before the Trojans started to rally.

Smith racked up two more RBI as the Trojans started to edge closer before mounting a ninth-inning rally.

With two outs and the tying run on base, the umpire said Austin Garofalo leaned into the pitch and called the batter out in accordance to a new NCAA rule change stating batters are not allowed to lean in to pitches.

In the final game of the series on Sunday, Central Michigan got out to an early lead which the Trojans were unable to counter.

The Chippewas hit three RBI singles in the third inning and a home run in the fourth.

The Trojans were held scoreless until the seventh inning when Logan Cerny hit a two-RBI double to put runs on the board.

The pitching of Zach Kohn and Cameron Miller, however, was too much for the Trojans to overcome as the Chippewas won 5-2.

Up next, the Trojans hit the road to take on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs for a three-game series before returning home for a Wednesday night matchup against Jacksonville State.

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