‘Clutch’ hit lifts Troy over Ga.

Published 10:37 pm Monday, August 3, 2009

Taylor Lord drove in Nathan Fox for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh Monday afternoon to give the Troy Junior Dixie Boys a 5-4 win over Georgia at the Junior Boys World Series in Enterprise.

Lord came up to bat with the bases loaded and nobody out, but fell behind 0-2. However, Lord was able to battle back and work the count full before grounding the sixth pitch of the at-bat through the middle and into centerfield to set off a celebration for Troy.

“I was just trying to keep my head in,” Lord said. “I knew I could do it even though I fell behind 0-2. I just saw the ball through and made contact.

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“I just did what I was supposed to. I was pretty happy. I was feeling good. I can’t really explain the feeling.”

Head coach Sam Kitchens said Lord did exactly what the coaching staff asked of him.

“That was just a clutch, clutch base hit,” Kitchens said. “He was in a tough situation down 0-2. But, in that situation with the bases loaded and nobody out, we just wanted him to put the ball in play and give us a chance and he did what we asked of him.”

Lord’s key performance was just one of several that Troy needed to win the game.

John Johnson started on the mound for Troy and gave up three runs in four and a third innings of work. Only one of the runs was earned, as the Troy defense

committed three errors while Johnson was in the game. Johnson gave up six hits and struck out four.

“John was certainly big,” Kitchens said. “It was a gamble that I decided to take at the beginning of the game by starting him and it certainly paid off.

We just wanted him to throw strikes and let us play defense behind him and he did a good job of that.”

Georgia scored all three of its runs in the third inning to go up 3-1, when Troy committed two errors to allow the runs.

“We made a couple mistakes there in the third inning that hurt us,” Kitchens said. “But, we were able to bounce back defensively.”

Troy rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth when Morgan Shaver and Blake Craft reached base to lead off the inning. Chandler Avant then singled to center field to score Shaver easily. Craft rounded third and headed for home, but the Georgia catcher was waiting

for Craft with the ball at home plate.

Craft, however, leaped over the catcher’s head and landed on the plate to score the tying run.

Craft then went to the mound in relief of Johnson in the fifth with runners on first and second and just one out, but was able to work his way out of the jam.

Craft finished the game for Troy, throwing just 38 pitches, meaning he was eligible to pitch again against Texas later Monday. “Blake was great and he’s still alive for tonight, which is a great thing,” Kitchens said. “We’ll just have to see what happens from here.”

Craft had struggled in Troy’s second round game against Louisiana Sunday, but was able to bounce back.

“I was feeling good out there,” Craft said. “I knew it had it in me, even though I struggled the other night.”

Troy would take a 4-3 lead in the fifth, when Tripp Blackmon drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a balk by Georgia pitcher Cortez Leonard and then scored on another wild pitch.

Georgia tied the game in the top of the seventh when Leonard hit a two-out RBI triple to drive in Matthew Norton.

Troy’s seventh-inning drama started when Chase Smartt singled to lead off the inning.

Blackmon drew a walk to bring up Miles Loving with runners at first and second with nobody out.

Loving grounded to the shortstop for what appeared as if it was going to be an out, but Blackmon was able to use his speed to beat the shortstop’s throw to second and load the bases for Lord’s heroics.

The win was the second straight come-from behind win for Troy, something Kitchens was proud of.

“It was just another come from behind win,” Kitchens said. Blake came in and pitched great. Then, Taylor Lord was able to get the big hit at the end to win the game. The kids are just playing hard out here. It was just a big win when we needed to have it.”