Troy Juniors hold on for win at state

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 27, 2001

Sports Editor

MONTGOMERY – Troy Post 70 took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth and held a West Alabama rally in check to claim a 6-5 win in the first round of the American Legion Junior Varsity State Tournament

on Thursday.

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West Alabama was up 1-0 on the strength of Byron Randall first inning double when Troy made a charge to take the lead in the fourth. Clint Pugh singled a run in and then stole both second and third base before being brought home courtesy of ground ball hit by Chase Clower.

Post 70 continued to build on its lead in the fifth inning. Blake Phelps reached on error, as did Luke Sanders with an infield bunt. Justin Sims followed with a two-run double and a run-scoring basehit by Drew Kilpatrick ended Troy’s offense for the inning.

Troy led 5-1 at that point, but West Alabama came back in the bottom half of the inning, using a two RBI single by Justin Moss and a single by Clint Moody to score three runs. Troy starting pitcher Matthew Johnson closed out the inning by striking out Alfred Padilla with the tying run on second.

Johnson gave Post 70 and head coach Russ Jinright five good innings on the mound, allowing five hits and striking out three. He also held West Alabama without a hit in the second, third and fourth innings, allowing Troy to build a lead.

Johnson was also aided by some stellar defensive plays in the Post 70 infield. In the bottom of the fourth, second baseman Brett Pierce knocked down a high hit by Padilla, recovered it and threw off balance to first for the out. In the same inning, Sims, playing first, robbed William Pettus of a single when he dove to snag a line drive and get the third out of the inning.

Daniel Porter replaced Johnson to start the bottom half of the sixth, but after giving up a single and walking the next batter faced, Porter gave way to Sims who closed out the game.

"Matthew did a fine job today, but this was only Porter’s second game pitching for us all year," Jinright said. "The game was just a little bit too close for us to keep him out there."

Sims came in as relief with two on and West Alabama’s Chris Hill used a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. Sims then issued a walk to load the bases and Randall scored on a wild pitch, giving Troy just one-run advantage at 6-5. Pettus tried to tie the score on the same play, but Sims was there to make the cut-off and the last out.

West Alabama returned the favor in the top of the seventh. Wesley Wright led off with a single, stole second and then attempted to make it home on a basehit into the outfield by Clower. The West Alabama catcher made the grab just before Wright slid home.

Troy got hits from Kilpatrick, Pugh, Clower, Sims, Phelps and Wright. Sanders had a sacrifice fly RBI to put Troy up 6-4 in the sixth to go along with a bunt.

Post 70 takes the field today at 4 p.m. at AUM’s Senator Field against rival Northview of Dothan. Northview defeated West Morgan on Thursday.

The two teams split a pair of close games earlier this season and Jinright expects today’s game to be no different.

"It’s going to be a good match-up," he said. "I would have rather faced Northview later on in the tournament, because we’re so familiar with them. They’re sort of like our buddies."