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Troy not overlooking Arkansas State in tourney opener

Published 9:09pm Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On May 12 Troy had its NCAA-best 18-game home winning streak snapped. Nearly two weeks later, the Trojans will get a shot at revenge against the team that beat them, Arkansas State. This time, however, it will be on a bigger stage.

No. 1 seed Troy will face No. 8 Arkansas State in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Lafayette, La., today at 12:30 p.m.

“[Arkansas State] will be a very inspired group looking to win this tournament,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “There’s a lot more that goes into this No. 1 versus No. 8 matchup than meets the eye. They’ll be ready to go.”

Troy won the three game series from Arkansas State back in mid-May but the winning streak in which the team to immense pride was taken away. After trailing the contest 14-1, Troy made a miraculous comeback to close to within one run before falling 15-14.

“It may add more incentive to beat them but mostly it’s just getting to them early. They have a really good pitcher going against us and we need to have a good game early if we want to beat them,” third baseman Logan Pierce said.

The pitcher Pierce referred to is senior right-hander Daniel Wright.

In the opening game of the regular season series versus Troy, Wright tossed nine solid innings allowing just four hits and striking out six. Troy would win the game in the 10th on a walk-off RBI single from Ali Knowles.

In 14 starts this season, Wright is 6-4 with a 3.17 ERA, both tops on the team.

Troy’s starting pitcher has yet to be announced.

Troy will counter with its balanced offensive attack. The top of the Trojans’ order has been solid all season. The No. 1, 2 and 3 hitters in the order, Tyler Vaughn, Logan Pierce and Danny Collins have batter a combined .361 with 64 doubles, 19 home runs and 153 RBIs.

Follow that up with Trae Santos, who is at the top of the nation’s home run category with 15.

The winner of the Troy and Arkansas State game will play the winner of the No. 4 Florida Atlantic and No. 5 Western Kentucky contest at 4 p.m. on Thursday. The loser of the two opening round games will meet in an elimination game on Thursday at 9 a.m.

Troy is 14-10 all-time in the Sun Belt Tournament and the Trojans have won eight of their last 12 tournament games.

All of Troy’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament games will be broadcast live on Troy IMG Sports Network with local coverage on WTBF 94.7 FM in Troy and worldwide coverage online and on smartphones at TroyTrojans.com/showcase. Fans can watch the games live for free at SunBeltSports.org.

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