In-state victory

Published 11:16 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ryan Ditthardt and Michael Precise powered Troy to 6-2 victory over the visiting No. 23 Alabama Crimson Tide Tuesday evening at Riddle-Pace Field.

It has been 11 years since the Crimson Tide last visited Troy, but the duo of Trojans ruined the return trip and combined for six RBIs on three hits. Precise put the Trojans (6-2) on board with an RBI single in the fourth inning to score Steven Rosado.

Ditthardt stepped to the plate and blasted a monster two-run home run over the left field wall.

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“I am seeing the ball real well right now,” Ditthardt said. “On the at-bat before I had seen a fastball away and I wasn’t expecting to see one of those, so I looked inside and I got the pitch I want and drove it.”

The blast gave Troy a 3-2 lead and brought the second largest crowd ever at Riddle-Pace Field to their feet.

“I think it really energized us and any time a team scores right off the bat and you come back and get the lead it just puts the other team down. We had a lot of momentum after that.”

That momentum carried into the next inning when Precise pummeled a two-out, three-run double off the wall in right field to clear the bases. The hit scored Rosado, Brett Henry and Bart Pettus to give Troy a 6-2 lead.

“I was fortunate enough (the pitcher) had to come to me with the count how it was,” Precise said. “He actually came to me with two pitches in the at-bat and I took them, but he really didn’t have a choice to come to me with the bases loaded and I was fortunate enough to center it up.”

Travis Burge started the game and allowed two runs on five hits in 4.1 innings of work. He struck out two and walked one. Those two runs came on one swing of the bat, as Alabama’s Kent Matthes set a team record with his sixth home run in as many games. This home run was a two-run bomb to dead center field off Burge in the first inning.

Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said how Burge responded was the turning point in the game.

“I think that was key because after the two-run homer in the first to their hottest hitter and probably their best hitter he settled in an pitched really well for us,” Pierce said. “He gave us a chance to come back and take the lead. I was very happy of the entire team. We played well in all phases tonight.”

However, the Troy bullpen worked a no-hitter through the remaining 4.2 innings and Josh Storm entered in the ninth with the tying run on deck to pick up the save.

Jeff Green, who got the win on the mound for Troy, Jordan Mathers, Chris Sorce and Storm combined to allow zero runs on zero hits, strike out eight batters and walk three.

“We have a deep pitching staff and we don’t feel like any pitcher who comes in won’t get the job done,” Precise said.

Alabama head coach Jim Wells said his team did not execute on as many plays as Troy and that was the reason for the loss.

“They (Troy) did a good job when they got guys on and we used our best guys out of the pen, but they put a three-spot on us twice,” Wells said. “(Jimmy) Nelson pitched well for us in the end, but we could never mount any offense.”

Up next for the Trojans is another home game tonight against Samford. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

Click here for a photo gallery of Tuesday’s action