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A bitter defeat

The run for two World Series championships in a row has come to an end.

In the night cap of a double-header Monday, Troy faced off against Florida after eliminating Louisiana earlier in the day.

While Troy tasted victory earlier in the day, it was with the bitterness of defeat that the team ended the day as Florida survived elimination and won, 12-0.

“This was a tough one to swallow,” head coach Gary Fox said following the loss.

“It’s tough to see the season end like this.”

Standing in Troy’s way of making it to the Final Four was Florida pitcher Quenton Davis, who was nearly perfect on the mound, and just as devastating at the plate.

Davis pitched six and one-third innings, striking out 10 Troy batters, while surrendering just one hit and walking four batters.

No Troy base runner advanced past first base against Davis.

At the plate, Davis finished 4-5 with two doubles, two singles and three RBIs.

“Hats off to Quenton, he pitched a great game – we didn’t expect to face a pitcher like,” Fox said.

“I feel like we faced the same kind of pitching in the District Tournament. It wasn’t all that much different from what we saw (Monday night).

“But that doesn’t take anything away from what (Davis) was able to do to us,” the coach added.

Troy pitchers did not nearly have as easy of a night on the mound.

In all, four pitchers took the mound for Troy.

Rush Hixon started things off for Troy, giving up three runs off of three hits, while Jason Fleming surrendered the same amount of runs at hits.

Xavius Burden gave up one run on two hits and Hunter Baggett gave up five runs off of seven hits.

Troy recorded its first, and only, strike out in the top of the sixth inning.

“I think I took Rush out a little too soon,” Fox said about his starter.

“The guys were really behind (Rush) starting and when the change was made, I noticed a difference in our atmosphere – in our chemistry.”

At the plate, Troy was held to just one hit, which came off the bat of Xavius Burden in the first inning.

The Alabama state champions had just five other base runners, as Austin Ingram, Chase Hartley, Reilly Fox and Baylor Barnes all reached on walks while Rush Hixon got on by virtue of a Florida error.

“That’s what makes this loss hard – (our hitters) typically thrive off the kind of pitching we saw (Monday night),” Fox said. “It was difficult to take knowing what kind of stuff our guys are capable of.”

In the first game of the day, what Davis was for Florida, Hartley was for Troy against Louisiana, as the Alabama state champions won, 8-4.

With his team trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, with no outs and the bases loaded, Hartley came in in relief to strike out the side, and in the process swing momentum to Troy’s side of the diamond.

In the following half-inning, Troy scored four runs off of three hits and two costly Louisiana errors to take a lead, one it would not give up.

“That was a big momentum swing for us,” Fox said.

“Chase came in and shut them down and then we were able to take advantage of some Louisiana mistakes.

“We weren’t able to capitalize on mistakes (against South Carolina) but we did a great job of that today,” he added.

In the big inning, Hunter Baggett, Xavius Burden, Chase Hartley, and Jason Fleming all scored.

Both Baggett and Hartley had doubles, while Reilly Fox, Rush Hixon and Hartley all had RBIs.

Fleming scored on a wild pitch.

“I like what we were able to do, but the big difference in this game was Chase Hartley,” Fox said.

“To come in a situation like he did (with the bases load and no outs) and get us out of the inning was huge. When he did that, it really took the wind out of Louisiana’s sails.”

Hartley pitched four innings, striking out eight while allowing just one run off of three hits.

Troy ends its tournament season with an overall record of 9-3.

“There were a lot of good things that happened – a lot of great memories,” Fox said.

“I thought we had what it took to win it all, but this lose is something that everyone who was a part of this team will be able to use in the future.

“This group of guys have a lot of good things headed their way,” the coach added.