Trojans’ baseball team christens new stadium with a win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 10, 2002

Sports Writer

The Troy State University baseball team didn’t disappoint the second largest crowd in school history when it opened the newly renovated Riddle-Pace Field against Lipscomb Friday.

After stranding four baserunners in the first two innings, the Trojans scored two runs in the third and four more in the fourth and three TSU pitchers held the Bisons’ offense in check in an 8-3 victory, in front of 1,493 fans.

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TSU head coach John Mayotte said the win was big for numerous reasons.

"Especially being the baptism of this facility, it’s exciting for everybody. We’re just real happy we played a pretty good ballgame. We didn’t play a great game, but it’s too early in the year for us to be playing great games I guess. But we’re very happy."

TSU used Lipscomb starting pitcher David Patton’s inability to find the plate to its advantage in the third inning. Lance Newman and Chad Howard opened the inning with walks and Drew Miller followed with an RBI single to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead. Wade Miller scored Howard in the ensuing at-bat with a sacrifice fly as TSU extended the lead to 2-0. Patton lasted just three and two-thirds innings, allowing five runs on five hits and walking six.

The Trojans did all its damage in the fourth with two outs. After a two-out single by Newman, Howard collected his second hit of the night with a two-run homerun. Wade Miller connected on the second two-run homer of the inning to increase the Trojans’ margin to 6-0. Miller finished the game with three RBI’s while going 3-for-3 from the plate.

"I’ve been hitting the ball well the first few games, but I kind of had a breakout night tonight," Miller said. "It was really big for me. I needed one of those. I’ve been hitting the ball hard right at people, but today my hits fell."

Miller also said the early lead was an important factor in the outcome.

"It was huge. The past three or four games, we haven’t been able to get the early lead. We fall behind and it’s hard to play catch-up…it’s hard to play baseball that way. To come out here and get an early lead was huge. It really set the tone for the whole ballgame."

Lipscomb cut the lead to 7-2 in the sixth, but the Trojans added a run in its half of the sixth and allowed one run over the next three innings to preserve the win.

TSU starting pitcher Aaron Hunt controlled the game through the first five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs and four hits while fanning eight. Justin Morgan and Doug Atkins surrendered a run on two hits over the final three and one-third innings as the Trojans won its second game in a row to improve to 2-3.

Hunt was confident the Trojans would bounce back from a disappointing start to the season and said the game had one other significance.

"I knew that we had a good team. We just haven’t played to our potential yet. I knew that if I hit my spots, which I was able to do, and Wade called a great game, that we would have a chance to win. And I got my first college win, thank God."

Mayotte was impressed with Hunt’s performance.

"Aaron Hunt had great stuff and we thought he had command of the game. You just worry about the fact that he’s not going to throw that many innings early in the year. So we had to go to our bullpen. But when we got the cushion, I thought we were in pretty good shape."

Howard and Drew Miller each had two hits and two runs scored in the contest.

Mayotte said the Trojans are tapping into its talent, but still have a room to improve.

"You realize there’s outstanding ability out here, but we’re not playing up to our ability yet. In a way, you’re disappointed, but in a way you’re excited because you realize you do have the ability to play. We’re looking forward to the future because we know that our best days are in front of us."

Troy State 6, Lipscomb 5

Junior left fielder Chad Howard’s RBI double in the bottom of the tenth inning gave the Troy State baseball team a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Lipscomb at Riddle-Pace Field Saturday.

Troy State took its first lead of the game in the eighth on Howard’s single to right center that scored Daryl Griggs from third. Howard went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

Lipscomb took advantage of a Newman error in the ninth to regain the lead, 5-4. With runners on first and second and no outs, Newman’s throw to first on Chris Parker’s bunt sailed over second baseman Jacob Forrest’s head allowing the two runners to score.

Leadoff man Al Stephens was awarded first base in the tenth when Kuwik hit him on a full count. Pinch-runner Coby Smith advanced to second on Newman’s sacrifice and scored on Howard’s double.

Junior Doug Atkins (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after failing to convert on his first save opportunity of the year. Kuwik (0-1) was saddled with his first loss as he allowed two earned runs in 1.1 innings.

Troy State starter Justin Eason lasted five innings and struck out seven while scattering six hits. The Trojans left a season-high 14 men on base and at least one in nine of the 10 innings.

Troy State and Lipscomb will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Fans will be admitted free of charge when they present a church bulletin at the gate.

– TSU SID contributed to this report