Come back kids:
Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 30, 2002
Troy 13’s stave off elimination to beat Greenville for title
By KEVIN PEARCEY
Sam Kitchens has been coaching Dixie baseball for 28 years and on Thursday night he saw something new:
His Dixie Boys 13-year-old team sweeping two straight games against Greenville to win the sub-district championship.
"I don’t know what to say, I’m in shock," Kitchens said. "These kids, they just would not quit."
Regulated to the loser’s bracket following a 7-1 loss to Greenville on Monday night, Troy ran through Luverne 11-4 on Tuesday to set up the rematch. The Wednesday game was called due to rain so Kitchens knew his team would have to force a doubleheader if they were to win the title.
And he was running low on pitching.
"When this thing started, I told everybody that pitching was our biggest question mark. The first game tonight, we didn’t have Chad (Jordan) but for four innings," said Kitchens. "Tobias Lee came in and kept us in the cotton-picking ball game and gave us a chance to win it."
Troy beat Greenville 5-4 in the opening game on Thursday night. Lee gave up four hits, while striking out six batters. Greenville opened with three runs in the first inning, scoring off one hit and two Troy errors.
Lee’s efforts paved the way for Jordan to come in and close the game for Troy, limiting Greenville to one hit while striking out eight. Troy scored three runs in the sixth to claim the lead and the eventual win.
The deciding game was an odyssey that lasted almost to midnight as both Greenville and Troy struggled to find a pitcher. Greenville threw Caleb Blackburn, Dalton Gregory and Lynn Lewis at Troy, while Kitchens used up Jordan’s last inning in the first then pitched Blake Sanders, Tanner Hensley and Seth Copeland the rest of the way.
"I threw more kids in this tournament then I’ve ever thrown before," he said.
Troy opened the game with three runs in the first, courtesy of a sac fly from Foster Styron and a two RBI double by Daniel Farrar. They then upped their lead to 7-0 in the second with Hensley belting a three-run homer in the inning. Chase Avant added a single RBI and Farrar has a basehit also.
An error and a hit batter put two runners on for Greenville in the second and Blake Conway singled one home. Blackburn followed with a basehit and Gregory had a sacrifice fly to score a runner. Lewis singled in Conway to cap off Greenville’s three-run inning.
Troy would get two more runs in the top of the third with Jordan driving in Chase Rogers and Sanders also scoring. Sanders had an RBI single in the fourth also.
"We did a great job of hitting the ball in that last game," said Kitchens. "Our defense, now, is going to have to have some work. We just made too many errors. I’m just proud of them right now. I’ve been coaching since 1975 and this is the first time I’ve ever had a tournament team fight through the loser’s bracket to go any further and we did it. I mean, they made a believer out of me."
But despite the big lead, Kitchens knew Greenville wasn’t going to go away.
"Greenville’s got a heck of good ball team," said Kitchens.
Greenville responded in their half of fourth, cutting Troy’s lead to 10-7 by the time the inning came to a close.
Ty Newton and Chris Creamer led-off with singles, Cory Johnson scored one run with a basehit and Kyle Nelson scored Creamer with an outfield fly. Troy issued three walks in the inning.
Greenville would get one run home on one hit in the fifth and score an additional run in the sixth, but Troy maintained their advantage, scoring three runs in the final two innings of play. Jordan added an RBI on a double and Farrar had an RBI with a sac fly.
Copeland would end Greenville’s season in the seventh, striking out two of the last four batters he faced and giving up no hits.
Avant was 3-for-5 to lead Troy. Jordan had a single and a double with two RBIs. Hensley had the three RBI home run. Styron added a double and a triple, Farrar had two doubles and three RBIs, while Rogers and Sanders each had basehits also.
For Greenville, Lewis was 3-for-5 with a triple in the first. Daniel Thierfielder had a single and Chris Creamer chipped in three singles. Blackburn had a basehit also for Greenville.