Troy senior Brett Henry stood at the plate in the sixth inning and stared out at Middle Tennessee’s Coty Woods, the top closer in the Sun Belt Conference, with the bases loaded in a tie game Sunday afternoon at Riddle-Pace Field.
Henry, the Trojans’ leading hitter who is known for his patience at the plate, worked his way into a full count against the side-winding Woods before fouling off three consecutive pitches. With the runners moving on the pitch, Woods delivered a fastball just off the plate, and Henry laid off, drawing a walk to force in Charley Williams for third with the go-ahead run in a 7-6 Troy victory.
The end of the game was delayed after eight innings when heavy rain moved into the Troy area.
The game resumed after a 70-minute delay, but Sorce was able to retire the Blue Raiders in the ninth, allowing only a pinch-hit double.
With the win, Troy improved to 27-19 overall on the year and 14-8 in Sun Belt play. The Trojans stay within four games of league-leading Western Kentucky, who swept UALR this past weekend. MTSU falls to 33-14 overall and 19-8 in the conference.
“Brett got the best at bat of the year in being selective,” Trojans coach Bobby Pierce said. “We play the inning we are supposed to, regardless of what the weather does. We make sure to follow the weather guidelines, but we wanted to finish this one.”
Troy scored four times in the sixth inning to erase what had been a 6-3 Blue Raiders lead. The Trojans scored the four runs on four singles and three walks off four MTSU pitchers. Adam Bryant, Williams and Miles Hoyle all delivered run-scoring hits before Henry drew his critical walk.
Junior Chris Sorce came on in relief of Troy starter Travis Burge (5-1) in the seventh inning and retired the Blue Raiders in order. He ran into trouble in the eighth with a walk and a hit batter before getting Ben Darlington to ground into an inning-ending double play, to post his fifth save of the year.
Burge allowed six runs on seven hits over six innings while walking two and striking out two.
“Travis pitched well except for that one inning,” Pierce said. “Sorce came in and slammed the door.”
Troy jumped out to an early lead in the game, scoring three times in the first inning off MTSU starter Chad Edwards.
The Blue Raiders answered right back, scoring five times in the second inning.
MTSU pushed its lead to 6-3 in the fourth.
Nick Montgomery (3-1) took the loss for MTSU, allowing a run on two hits in a third of an inning.
Hoyle, Tyre and Jake Sullivan had two hits each to lead the Troy attack.
The Trojans will take the coming week off during final exams but will return to action at Riddle-Pace Field next weekend when the Warhawks of ULM visit for a three-game series.