The Trojan baseball team traveled to Pensacola, Florida, this past weekend for the Cox Diamond Invitational and won two out of the three games.
On Friday night, Feb. 20, Troy took on St. Louis in a tight pitching battle between Troy’s freshman pitcher Corey Childress and the Billikens’ junior pitcher Josh Moore, but could not pull out a win.
Childress was stellar in his start on Friday, throwing a no-hitter through the first four innings and allowing only one run on three hits in his seven innings.
“He threw well, and he dominated for really all of the game, and he gave up a run there at the end,” said pitching coach Brad Phillips. “He’s been about as close to perfect as you can be at this point, especially considering that he’s a freshman.”
The first four innings were slow for both sides. The Trojans were unsuccessful at bringing in a run in the fifth and left one stranded on base.
After a three-up, three-down seventh inning for the Trojan bats, St. Louis struck.
Senior designated hitter Colton Frabasilio singled up the middle with two outs, and junior catcher Jake Henson doubled down the line in left field to score Frabasilio.
Troy answered back in the top of the eighth with some help from senior first baseman Trevin Hall and redshirt junior catcher Tripp Calhoun.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Trojans made a call to the bullpen for some relief from sophomore pitcher Marc Skinner.
Skinner knocked out the Billikens in the eighth inning, including two strikeouts, but in the bottom of the ninth, he allowed two hits and a walk. Skinner also hit a batter.
With junior third baseman Braxton Martinez on second, Henson hit a walk-off single for St. Louis to win the game, 2-1.
Saturday afternoon, Feb. 21, the Trojans had a tight standoff against North Florida, which had beaten Southern Miss the night before.
In the second inning, North Florida took an early lead, but junior pitcher Grant Bennett kept his composure.
By the bottom of the seventh, Troy had figured out its offense enough to bring around two runs.
Junior third baseman Bert Givens and senior center fielder Clay Holcomb were the only ones to cross home plate, however.
Fortunately for the Trojans, after leaving three on base in the seventh, their two runs were enough to bring home the 2-1 win.
Sunday, Feb. 22, was a big day of offense for Troy against the Nicholls State Colonels, as it won the game 10-2.
Despite a lackluster start to the season for sophomore pitcher Tucker Simpson last weekend, the coaches picked him for the start on Sunday.
“Tucker made a couple adjustments during the week that I think helped him,” Phillips said. “He looked a little bit more competitive and comfortable being out there.”
In the top of the first, Troy came out with its bats on fire.
The two-out, five-run rally was sparked by a single from junior right fielder Logan Hill and was followed up by a number of Trojans to bring the score to 5-0.
In the second inning, Troy tacked on another run with an RBI single from Givens that scored Masonia from third.
Simpson held it together through the first and second innings, but allowed Nicholls senior catcher Christian Correa to hit an RBI single that scored sophomore center fielder Justin Holt in the bottom of the third.
Luckily, the Trojans answered back in the fourth when freshman left fielder Reid Long hit a sacrifice fly to center field and scored Hill, bringing the score to 7-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, junior designated hitter Marc Frazier led off with a solo home run to right field for the Colonels, but Simpson stuck it out for the Trojans and finished out the fourth and fifth innings strong.
“It’s going to be a continued process for him because he hasn’t really pitched in a year, so he’s getting healthy and he’s showed signs of moving in the right direction as he did on Saturday,” Phillips said.
Four relief pitchers came in after Simpson, and each relief pitcher put in an inning to make it a team effort as Troy took down the Colonels.
Troy finished the game with 18 hits, which is the most since last season when Troy played Georgia State on March 30.
“I felt like we looked a little more comfortable in our second weekend out, and to be on the road for the first time I was happy to see that,” said head coach Bobby Pierce.
After its second weekend out and only allowing five runs this weekend, Troy’s pitching staff is leading the Sun Belt Conference with a 1.72 ERA.
Troy played Samford on Tuesday, Feb. 24, and shut out the Bulldogs 6-0.
The Trojans will be back in action at home against Southern Mississippi on Friday, Feb. 27.