Trojans knocked out of Sun Belt tourney

Published 4:37 pm Friday, May 22, 2009

Don Williams allowed seven runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings the first time he faced the Troy Trojans this year, but the Louisiana-Monroe junior allowed one run on eight hits in a mercy rule shortened 16-1 Louisiana-Monroe victory in an elimination game Friday afternoon at Riddle-Pace Field.

The No. 3 Trojans (33-23) lost to the No. 2 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 14-11 in the second round of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship in a game that ended early Friday morning and ULM (30-26) jumped on Troy early in the Friday afternoon contest with 13 runs in the first three innings.

Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said the short recovery time may have factored into the loss.

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“It is easy to have that perception especially the way the game went including having a lead late and losing the lead only to rally back and be in the position to take the lead and not be able to finish it and the quick turnaround,” Pierce said. “And at the same time we were really trying to win that game and stay in the winner’s bracket, so we got out of sync on our pitching.

“You could point the finger there, but I really think ULM got loose and in the flow quickly. They pitched great and their offense was on track right away. They were not only getting base hits, but driving the ball.”

The Warhawks wasted no time scoring against Troy starter Andrew Dickinson in the first inning. Jon Prevost singled and Ben Soignier hit an opposite field home run over the monster in right field for a 2-0 lead.

Soignier went 2-for-3 in the game with two home runs, five RBIs, two walks and three runs scored.

“I was sitting on a curve ball in my first at-bat and I got it and was able to get it up in the wind,” Soignier said. “On the second one I was looking for middle-in and I got a fastball and was able to get it out of here.”

Dickinson (2-2) was saddled with the loss.

ULM padded its lead in the second inning with five runs on five hits. Nick Wade reached on a single, Jordy Poche brought him home with a double and Perry Smith plated Poche with a single of his own. Boomer Blanchard kept the inning alive with a single and after a strikeout Soignier blasted a ball over the fence in left field for a three-run home run and a 7-0 ULM advantage.

ULM pushed the lead to 13-0 with six runs in the third inning. Ryan McMillan walked and Poche cranked a ball over the right field fence for a two-run home run. Perry Smith laced a double and Blanchard plated him with a triple to right.

Prevost knocked a single, Soignier walked and Matt Collins brought both Warhawks home to cap the scoring.

After another goose egg for Troy, the Warhawks struck again in the fourth. Wade singled and scored on a Poche single to up the advantage to 14-0.

The Trojans manufactured a run when Chad Watson tripled with one out and Charley Williams drove him home with a ground out to the right side. The triple was Watson’s seventh on the season, breaking the school record.

The Trojans used two pitchers in the sixth inning and ULM scored two runs on four hits. Poche singled with two outs and scored on a single by Blanchard. Smith doubled and scored on a single by Prevost to cap the scoring.

Every Warhawk but two had a hit and each ULM batter had at least one RBI but three.

Pierce said the Trojans may be out of the tournament, but he would like to thank all involved with making the tournament run smoothly.

“I would like to say how much we appreciate everybody from the University administration, the athletic administration, sports information, broadcasting, media, hospitality and all the volunteers who have gathered up from all across the Wiregrass to help us pull off a first-class tournament,” Pierce said. “Based on what I’ve heard from everybody around we have set the standard of how the tournament should be run. That is what we had hoped to do and I can’t say thank you enough to all our fans for their support throughout the year.”

ULM faces Western Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. tonight. If WKU wins that game they advance to the championship game Saturday and if ULM takes it the two teams will play again Saturday morning.

Troy is eliminated with the loss.