Trojan baseball downs No. 5 Auburn, records highest-ranked victory in Troy’s D-I history

Wesley Kirchharr

Staff Writer

The Troy baseball team picked up its first three-game conference sweep of the year against Texas State before topping fifth-ranked Auburn on the road.

Troy (23-17, 9-9 Sun Belt) won the series opener 4-0 against the Bobcats before winning both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader, 4-3 and 6-3. The Trojans have now won six of the last seven after topping a ranked Tigers team for Troy’s highest ranked win in its Division I history.

In Friday’s game one, Troy picked up its third shutout on the year as Andrew Crane and Cory Gill struck out seven batters each. Crane scattered two hits in his six innings on the hill, with Gill picking up his fourth save on the year.

“I’ve been ready all week,” Crane said. “I trusted my stuff to go right at them and let my guys play behind me. It’s nice to get a lead early and have the momentum on our side.”

Brandon Lockridge led the Trojans at the plate with his 2-4 performance. Lockridge drove in one run and chipped in a triple with Justin Friend collecting two RBIs to pace the Troy offense.

Troy’s host of pitchers held the Sun Belt’s top-hitting team to only three hits throughout the game. The Bobcats held a team batting average of .298 before a poor performance at the plate. The Bobcats’ struggles, combined with Troy’s scattered scores, allowed the Trojans to cruise to the 4-0 victory.

In the front cap of Saturday’s doubleheader, Troy outlasted the Bobcats after 11 innings to clinch the series with the 4-3 victory.

In the bottom of the 11th, Steven Whitaker advanced the winning run into scoring position after a single sent Jackson Cofer to third. After a pitching change from the Bobcats, a wild pickoff attempt provided the space Cofer needed to make a break for the plate. Cofer scored, and the Trojans walked off with the win after the error.

Troy picked up 11 hits during the game, led by Cofer and Matt Sanders. Sanders went 3-4 at the plate with two RBIs, including a ninth-inning single to tie the game and force the extra innings. Cofer picked up his first multi-hit game as a Trojan after his 2-4 outing at the plate.

In the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader, a three-run homer in the ninth from Texas State’s Felipe Rodriguez was not enough to lift the Bobcats in the final game as Troy escaped with a 6-3 win.

Troy jumped out to an early two-run lead after the first frame following three walks and a pair of Bobcat errors. Friend and Chase Smartt each drove in a run during the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead. A two-run shot came off the bat of Trevor Davis to take a commanding 6-0 lead in the fifth inning.

Troy allowed only six total runs throughout the weekend series, the lowest Troy has held an opponent after three games this season.

“Sweeping any team is tough,” said Head Coach Mark Smartt. “I thought we pitched lights out. All three of our starters were good. 3-0 is something to be really proud of.”

Just three weeks after topping Alabama at Riddle Pace Field, Troy knocked off fifth-ranked Auburn on the road to become the first team since the 2013 squad to top both in-state powerhouses in the same season.

Troy jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after the first inning behind the 4-4 performance of Trevor Davis. Davis drove in the first run after a single to left field, but neither team would get on the board again until the fifth inning.

Jackson Cofer sent a three-run bomb down the right field line to give Troy a 4-0 lead after the front end of the fifth. The Tigers then answered with a single up the middle that drove in two runners to come within two runs.

Davis picked up the second of his two RBIs in the following frame as he singled to the left side, allowing Whitaker to give Troy a much-needed 5-2 lead.

Both squads were unable to score in the final three innings, allowing the Trojans to outlast for the victory. Troy racked up 14 hits, and Christian Camacho was charged with the loss on the mound.

Max Newton picked up the win for Troy after scattering five hits during his five innings on the hill. Marc Skinner picked up the save, the 18th save of his career, tying Troy’s all-time record for saves.

Troy gears up to face the reigning national champion, Coastal Carolina. The three game series begins Friday at 5 p.m. in Conway, South Carolina.

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