The Troy baseball team won its second conference series in a row this weekend in a 2-1 series victory against the UALR Trojans.
The series started with another impressive outing by junior pitcher Grant Bennett, who allowed only three runs in 7 2/3 innings and struck out five batters on Friday, March 20.
“He did what Grant does, and that’s pitching with a lot of courage and determination, and found a way to put us in a position to win,” said head coach Bobby Pierce.
Senior pitcher Jeremy McGowan came in for relief and earned his second save of the season in the 64th appearance in his career.
The 4-3 victory was cushioned by the Troy offense, which put together eight hits and took advantage of a UALR error to score two of its four runs.
The other runs were put together with the help of senior first baseman Trevin Hall, who hit a two-RBI single in the first inning to put Troy up early.
In the third inning, senior second baseman Nick Masonia reached on a throwing error by the UALR shortstop. Later, he scored Troy’s go-ahead run when UALR freshman left fielder Ryan McSwain dropped a fly ball hit by freshman catcher Brody Binder.
On Saturday, March 21, Troy suffered a devastating loss in game two of the series, 14-4 against UALR and sophomore pitcher Cory Malcom.
Malcom’s performance also featured a strong UALR offense and Troy’s inability to find effective pitching.
UALR ripped 19 hits against three Troy pitchers in the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday.
Before the scoring got out of hand, both sides scored two runs in the second inning. Troy took the lead in the third when senior center fielder Clay Holcomb stole home, putting Troy on top 3-2.
However, Troy had only a short time with the lead before senior catcher Drew Merten hit a three-run shot to left field, stealing the lead back for UALR.
Later in the game, the Trojans of UALR tacked on a few more runs and ran away with a six-run ninth inning, bringing the final score to 14-4.
Fortunately for Troy, there was still a hot hand remaining in the left field bullpen.
Junior pitcher Lucas Brown toed up the rubber for his second start and earned his second win in his career at Troy 6-1.
“I was real pleased that we mentally bounced back from game two,” Pierce said. “Lucas Brown got us off to a good start, and offensively we got off to a good start.”
Brown struck out only one batter, but battled through seven innings, holding UALR to just one run.
The Troy offense also started with energy and gave plenty of security to Brown, when Holcomb sparked the scoring and touched home for the first run for Troy.
Later in the first inning, Masonia doubled to right field to bring Hall around for Troy’s second run.
The scoring was then silenced until senior pinch hitter David Hall hit a two-RBI double to left field in the seventh inning, scoring Masonia and Hall.
Junior right fielder Logan Hill then sealed the deal with another Troy two-out, two-RBI double in the eighth.
“We played maybe one of our best defensive games of the year and made some nice plays,” Pierce said. “We also did something we haven’t been doing recently, and we scored late in the game to seal the deal.”
The Troy baseball team will resume play this Friday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at Riddle-Pace Field in a four-game series against Alabama A&M.