Trojans finish off Jacksonville

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

Sports Editor

The Troy State Trojans are headed to the Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Tournament.

But head coach John Mayotte said he’s not even thinking about that right now.

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In fact, after the game Mayotte wasn’t even sure if his team’s three-game sweep of defending champ Jacksonville would guarantee the Trojans a postseason berth.

"I think it does," he said. "But I try not to get involved with any of that, honestly. Reading the computer, looking at the standings. We really just try to focus on getting better every single day. We haven’t done that all year."

The three victories moved TSU to 27-26 overall and 15-12 in the A-Sun. The Trojans sit at fourth place in the conference with a three-game road trip next weekend at Stetson to close out the regular season.

Following a Friday night slugfest, which saw the two league rivals combine for eight home runs in a TSU 12-7 win, Saturday’s opening game promised more of the same.

Jacksonville jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings, highlighted by a Chad Hausman home run in the first off TSU starter Justin Eason. Eason lasted just one and two-thirds innings before being replaced by Marcus Bell.

Wade Miller had a sac fly RBI then Brian Lipman and Drew Miller knocked back-to-back homers in the bottom of the third to cut JU’s lead to 5-4.

Chad Olivia responded for the Dolphins with his own two-run shot in the fourth. Mal Winters came in to relieve Bell and held Jacksonville to just one hit as Lipman drove in three runs in the sixth inning with his league-leading 17th homer of the year.

Trojans’ closer Doug Atkins sealed the win for TSU in the final inning, retiring the final three Jacksonville batters.

"I thought we did a lot of little things well," said Mayotte. "We didn’t strike out as much as we did before. We put the ball in play. We hit home runs to the right side of the field, which to me, is the key to hitting. We weren’t pull happy. We just sort of went hard the other way with some shots. And we played great defense."

Great defense and the pitching of Eric Wikstrom is what aided the Trojans in the the second game of the twin bill. Wikstrom shut out the Dolphins in a complete seven-inning game. Troy State managed to sneak a few runs home in the bottom of the sixth and win 2-0.

"I just concentrated on throwing strikes," said Wikstrom. "Our defense was awesome. Everybody made it possible."

The Trojans’ defense kept JU off the board in the fourth inning. Rob Cichra flied out to center, hoping to bring home teammate Alex Jamison from third. But TSU right fielder Al Stephens was on the mark with the gun to catcher Lance Newman who applied to tag for the double play.

"Al had the throw to home and Lance made a great tag," said Wikstrom.

Newman would score, himself, in the sixth, opening the Trojans’ half of the inning with a single. The senior then rounded the bases on a long double hit by Wade Miller and beat the throw home for the go-ahead run. Miller would score on his brother, Drew’s, sacrifice fly into center.

"This gives us a great amount of confidence going into the last weekend and going into the tournament," said Wikstrom. "This is just going to give a huge boost to our confidence. We’re over .500 and our goal, after the slow start, was to get back over .500 and we did it."

Wikstrom (5-2) earned his second win in six days, throwing his fourth complete game of the year.

Drew Miller finished the day with a team-high three hits, including his 10th homer of the year.

"Eric did the same thing for us last weekend against Campbell," said Mayotte. "He pitched a great third game. It was nip and tuck and could have gone either way. But we beat great pitching out here this weekend. We had a lot of things happen to us early and we turned ourselves around and I’m extremely proud. I’m extremely proud for myself, as a coach, and proud of my kids."

The Trojans travel to Stetson next weekend for the final series of the regular season. The A-Sun tournament will also be held in Deland, Fla., and will start on May 22.