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Troy clips FAU

Going into the 2009 season, the Troy Trojans knew they had an established closer in All-Sun Belt Conference senior Josh Storm.

In Saturday’s 6-5 victory over Florida Atlantic, it became obvious that the Trojans have two quality closers as junior Chris Sorce struck out four of the six Owls he faced in the final two innings to preserve a Troy victory.

With the win, Troy improves to 21-13 overall and 9-5 in league play while dropping FAU to 17-14 and 6-10. The Trojans have now won seven straight league games to move into a third place tie with FIU, two games behind Western Kentucky.

Troy will go after a sweep of FAU on Sunday when the teams play the final game of the series at 1 p.m.

“I like the way we played tonight, it was a totally different type of game from last night,” Trojans coach Bobby Pierce said. “Storm came in and did a good job of getting us out of a big jam and the Sorce closed it out for us.”

Storm (2-0) came on in the sixth inning with Troy holding a 5-3 lead, but with FAU threatening. The Owls loaded the bases with one out when Colby Gratton singled and Troy Bubley walked to end the night for Troy starter Jason Walls. Fred Lewis was called on to pitch to left-handed-hitting catcher Nick Criaris, but walked him to load the bases.

Storm came on and got Anthony Mesa to strike out swinging, and then he got David Wilson on a called third strike to end the threat.

FAU was not about to give up at that point. The Owls tied the game in the seventh when Tom Hatcher, who had struck out his first three times up, hit an 0-2 fastball from Storm over the giant wall in right, knotting the game at 5-5.

“Sometimes you have to give a hitter credit, and he hit a good pitch from Storm to tie the game,” Pierce said. “The thing I like is that we came right back and regained the lead. This team is starting to believe that it can win this type of game, and they showed that tonight.”

Troy regained the lead in the home half of the seventh off FAU reliever Chris Schmitt (4-2). Chad Watson got on to open the inning when he was hit by a pitch. Miles Hoyle followed with a hit-and-run single to get Watson to third and Michael Precise drove him home with a single to right center.

From there, it was all Sorce, who earned his third save of the year with two perfect innings.

Troy had to battle from behind in the early innings after David Wilson opened the game with a home run on the first pitch from Walls. The Owls added two more runs in the second inning on a couple of hits, including an RBI double from Mesa, and an error.

Troy got on the board early as well, scoring in the first when Chad Watson tripled on a ball that the FAU rightfielder, Gratton, either lost in the late afternoon sun or had blow over his head at the last minute. Hoyle followed with a sacrifice fly to knot the score at 1-1.

After FAU took a 3-1 lead, Troy rallied with two runs in the third to tie, and two more in the fourth to take the lead off Owls starter Barry Rooks. Watson singled home Adam Bryant in the second and then scored on a Ryan Ditthardt double. Bryant then had a two-run single to plate Charley Williams and Steven Felix in the fourth.

“Adam Bryant had another great at bat to give us the lead in the fourth inning,” Pierce said. “He has hit the ball well for us all week and had two more big hits tonight.”

Watson, Precise and Bryant had two hits each to lead Troy while Gratton had three hits to lead the Owls.

Troy will go after its second straight Sun Belt sweep on Sunday when senior left-hander Travis Burge (2-1, 4.76 ERA) takes the mound against FAU senior left-hander Adam Morrison (0-1, 5.68).

“I expect that Travis will have another good outing for us tomorrow as we go for the sweep,” Pierce said. “The guy they are throwing is a lot like Travis, and we have seen him before, so I hope that we will be able to score some runs.”