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Trojan salvage

MOBILE — With nothing but pride to play for on the final day of the 2009 regular season, the Troy Trojans jumped out to an early lead on South Alabama, coughed that lead up in one bad inning, and then stormed back to take a 12-7 victory over the Jaguars.

The Trojans (32-21, 18-10 Sun Belt) will face the Jaguars again in four days when they host the Sun Belt Conference Tournament this week. Tournament play starts Wednesday night and the Trojans and Jaguars (25-28, 13-16) face off at 7:30 p.m.

Going into Saturday’s game, Trojans coach Bobby Pierce told his team to go out and have fun in the final regular season game of the year and, with some players in the lineup who haven’t seem much playing time of late, the Trojans did just that.

“I thought those guys all did a great job today,” Pierce said. “That is why they are a part of our program. There is such a small difference between a starter and backup, and it was great to see those guys go out and take advantage of their opportunity.”

The chief contributor for the Trojans on Saturday was junior Steven Rosado. The Marietta, Ga., native opened the season as Troy’s starter in center, but had seen limited playing time since a wrist injury slowed him in early March. Against the Jags, Rosado had three hits, including a double and a homer, and drove in six runs, three times as many as he had all year.

It was Rosado’s double in the third inning off USA starter Brandon Sage (3-6) that got Troy off to a good start, plating J.R. Myers, who had singled. Charley Williams followed with a long home run for a 3-0 lead.

South Alabama answered in the bottom of the inning, scoring four times off Troy starter Jason Walls. The big blow for the Jags was a two-run homer by Chris Davis. USA pushed its lead to 5-3 with a single run in the fourth to chase Walls.

The Trojans finally got the big inning they were looking for in the fifth, scoring five times on four hits, including a two-run single by Rosado. Troy got an assist in the inning from a Jags error that made four of the five runs in the frame unearned.

Troy added four more runs in the eighth inning, one on a solo homer by Daryl Otwell and three on Rosado’s second of the year.

Sophomore reliever Drew Hull (3-3) was the beneficiary of the two big innings for the Trojans. The Auburn native earned the victory by holding the Jaguars to just two hits over 2 1.3 innings. Josh Storm came on after Hull and had a quiet first inning before allowing two runs in his second inning of work. Chris Sorce got the final four outs for Troy.

Besides Rosado, the Trojans got two hits each from Williams, Trevor Tyre and Otwell. South Alabama had five players with two hits each in the game, but just two of their 13 hits went for extra bases.

Troy now turns its attention toward hosting the Sun Belt Tournament.

The Trojans will play the final game on Wednesday’s opening day of play, at 7:30 p.m., against South Alabama.

“This is a big event and a big deal to host this tournament and it is something we have been looking forward to for three years,” Pierce said. “This tournament will be run in a first class method and it is my hope that it will set the standard for all future Sun Belt Tournaments.”

The tournament will open on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. with what should be a great pitching matchup between the fourth seeded FIU Golden Panthers and the fifth seeded Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

The second game of the opening day will feature top seed Middle Tennessee against No. 8 seed Florida Atlantic at 12:30 p.m.

Troy’s game against South Alabama will be preceded by a matchup between second seeded Western Kentucky and seventh seed ULM at 4 p.m.