Sullivant’s single lifts Junior Boys past Enterprise

Published 8:44 am Monday, July 18, 2011

ENTERPRISE — The Troy Dixie Jr. Boys got plenty of outstanding pressure pitching, great defense and just enough timely hitting to come away with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Enterprise in the opening round of the Alabama Dixie Jr. Boys State Tournament at the Enterprise Recreation Complex late Sunday night.

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night at 7 p.m. but was postponed due to rain. The game didn’t start until approximately 9:15 p.m.

The tone for the game was set in the top of the first inning when Enterprise’s Tylson Holder reached first base on an infield hit and advanced to third base on a throwing error before Troy starting pitcher DeAndre Pitts got two outs in front of home plate and a fly out to left field to finish the inning.

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Enterprise threatened again in the top of the second inning when Van Motley walked and advanced to second base on a pair of ground outs before Pitts retired Hunter Blackmon to end another scoring chance.

After Enterprise’s Holder retired the first six batters in order, Troy finally got its first base runner on in the bottom of the third when Ty Witherington singled, advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Lee, reached third on a single by Marquese Christian before scoring on a wild pitch to give Troy a 1-0 lead.

Troy kept Enterprise from taking advantage of another scoring opportunity in the top of the fifth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Enterprise’s Tristan Smith hit a slow ground ball to second base that he beat out for an infield single. However, Troy first baseman Hunter Blackmon fired a strike to catcher Drew Starling who tagged Enterprise’s Clark Thompson out at home plate to help Troy maintain a slim 1-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Enterprise finally broke threw when Sam Gilmer scored on an RBI ground out by Brett Blackburn to tie the game at 1-1. Just a few moments later, Enterprise courtesy runner Ryan Littel scored when Troy’s catcher tried to pick a runner off second base before the throw entered center field.

Enterprise’s 2-1 lead didn’t last for long though as Troy responded by scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Jerrell Lawson lined a double to right field before Pitts reached on a fielder’s choice. After both runners moved up 90 feet on stolen bases, Morgan Sullivant lined a two-run single to left field for what proved to be the difference in the game.

Starling allowed a runner to reach second base in the seventh before retiring the next two Enterprise batters to preserve the win.

Troy head coach Sam Kitchens said he wasn’t surprised by Sunday night’s pitcher’s duel.

“I expected a very close pitching duel,” Kitchens said. “We didn’t hit the ball like we were capable of. But we got some key hits, especially in the bottom of the sixth when we scored those two runs. We made some good defensive plays.

“The pitchers threw strikes and our defense made some outstanding plays to get out of those jams. They had a couple of runners at third base with less than two outs. But our pitchers made pitches and we made plays.”

Troy immediately returns to face Opelika Monday morning at 10 a.m. before playing at either 5 p.m. in the losers bracket or 7:30 p.m. in the winners bracket.

Opelika earned a first-round bye in the seven-team tournament.