On the war path
It took an extra effort in the eighth inning and another strong performance from Chris Sorce, but the Troy Trojans took the weekend series from the visiting Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks with a 7-5 win Saturday night.
Riding the momentum of a 13-5 victory on Friday night, Troy (29-19, 16-8 Sun Belt) jumped on ULM (26-24, 12-16) early Saturday with five runs in the first three innings, but Troy let the Warhawks back in the game and an unearned run tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the eighth.
“We sat on the five runs way too long,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “But you have to give a pitcher credit when he gives up some runs and a big inning like he did and he comes back and throws even better late in the game.”
Sorce entered the game with runners on first and second and Troy leading 5-2. He allowed a double that pushed across two runs. In the eighth inning he struck out three, but allowed one unearned run with two outs that tied the game.
Steven Felix walked to open the Troy half of the eighth and Adam Bryant put down a sacrifice bunt to move Felix to second.
Leadoff man Chad Watson tripled to plate Felix and give Troy a 6-5 lead.
The Trojans added to that lead when Trevor Tyre singled past third base and Watson scored to put Troy up 7-5.
Sorce allowed one double in the final inning, but struck out three to end the game and pick up the win.
“I just wanted to be out there and help my team get a win,” Sorce said. “I felt bad because I made a bad pitch in the bottom of the seventh that took the win away from Travis, but we came back out and trusted my defense and threw strikes.”
Tyre was 3-for-5 with one run scored and two RBIs.
“We went up 5-0 and relaxed a little bit,” Tyre said. “We didn’t put any more pressure on the pitcher, but then we rallied back to get a win we really needed.
Troy got on the board first in the second inning with one run after two outs.
Miles Hoyle walked after Ryan Ditthardt and Brett Henry went down in order to open the innings. Hoyle scored on a single by Felix after a Michael Precise single for the 1-0 Troy lead.
The Trojans added four runs in the third. Charley Williams walked and scored on a Trevor Tyre single. Ditthardt reached on a single and Henry was hit by a pitch. Tyre and Ditthardt scored on a Hoyle double. Precise brought Henry home for the final run of the inning.
Troy starter Travis Burge took a 5-0 lead and a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Williams dove for a sure hit to keep the no-hit bid alive for Burge, but Perry Smith blooped a ball into shallow left field on the next pitch to break up the no-no.
“Travis pitched a great game for us,” Pierce said. “You don’t want to say anything when a guy’s got a no-hitter going, but you hope your players understand that and the play that Charley made out there to me was ‘I am going to help him preserve the no-hitter.’ And that’s how you play baseball.”
After two hits to open the sixth for the Warhawks, Burge retired the next three batters to end the threat.
The Warhawks scored four runs on four hits with two outs in the seventh. Ryan McMillan doubled to open the inning for ULM and Burge recorded two outs before Boomer Blanchard singled to drive in McMillan.
Jeff Green relieved Burge and walked Jon Prevost and allowed an RBI single to Ben Soignier to cut the Troy lead to 5-2.
After Matt Collins walked Troy closer Chris Sorce came on and allowed a Matt Laird double to score Prevost and Soignier, but Collins was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
McMillan stroked his second double of the game and ULM tied the score when Sorce and first baseman Ditthardt lost the ball in the lights with two outs in the eighth inning and McMillan scored his second run of the night.
Troy took the lead and Sorce shut ULM down for the win.
Click here for a photo gallery of Saturday’s action