Trojans defeat Monmouth in ninth

Published 11:24 am Friday, March 9, 2012

Baseball has a funny way of producing memorable moments. Troy’s 6-5 win over Monmouth on Friday was one of those ways.

Jakob Nixon, a late insert into the starting lineup after Tyler Vaughn was scratched due to an ankle injury, proved to be the hero as he laced a full-count, 2-out, bases loaded single down the right field line to earn Troy the victory.

“It’s a crazy game,” head coach Bobby Pierce said. “He’s starting to look a lot more comfortable and thought he looked good tonight.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

With one out in the ninth, Tyler Hannah walked before Danny Collins double to set the table for the Trojans. After Logan Pierce was intentionally walked, Boone Shear lofted a shallow fly ball to right but not deep enough to score the run. Nixon, who also doubled in the eighth to finish the game 2-for-5, fouled off several pitches before stroking the game-winning hit.

Tyler Ray got the start in search of his 15th consecutive win and did everything a team would expect of its ace. Ray pitched 7 2/3 innings allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out a season-high nine batters.

Monmouth seemed to have Ray’s number early as they pounded out five hits in the first three innings. Troy’s preseason All-American would settle down, however, and surrender just two hits to the Hawks in his final 4 2/3 innings of work.

Coming into Friday’s game, Ray had won 17 of his last 18 decisions. For 8 2/3 innings, it appeared he might take one step closer to the Troy and Sun Belt Conference career wins record of 34.

That would not be the case as Monmouth, trailing 5-1 with one out in the eighth, scored two runs in each of the final two innings to tie the game at 5-5.

Jamis Rosenkranz slugged a solo homerun to straight-away center off Ray to cut the deficit to 5-2. Ray would strike out the next batter before giving way to Nate Hill. The southpaw surrendered three consecutive hits to left-handed batters, allowing one more run to score before retiring the side.

Ray did continue one personal streak, however. The senior has not issued a walk in his last 22 innings.

Tyson Workman come on to close in the ninth but quickly loaded the bases without recording an out. A strikeout and a run scoring groundout helped the Trojan faithful breath a little easier but Danny Avella lined a single to right field to plate the tying run.

Hill and Workman entered the game as the one of the Sun Belt’s most dominating one-two punch out of the bullpen. Through 13 games, the duo had allowed a combined two earned runs in 24 innings on the season.

“Those guys are so good for us time and time again,” Pierce said. “Tonight it didn’t really work out for them but we were able to comeback and get the win.”

The Trojans offense picked and prodded at Monmouth starter Pat Light all night. Light, who is listed by some as one of the nation’s top prospects, struggled through five innings, allowing five runs – four earned – on seven hits.

With two outs in the first, Hannah was hit by a pitch and quickly stole second. Collins then looped a base hit into center that bounced over Monmouth’s diving center fielder, Josh Boyd, and rolled all the way to the wall. Hannah easily scored but Collins was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch out an inside-the-park homerun to end the inning.

Troy loaded the bases in the third with no one out and scored on an infield hit by Clay Holcomb and a single from Logan Pierce.

Collins, who finished 2-for-3 raising his season average to .375, has solidified himself as one of the team’s top sluggers as a sophomore. He even worked his first walk of the season in the fifth inning.

“It’s hard to imagine a kid going 13 game without a walk,” Bobby Pierce said. “He’s a good hitter and did a nice job of setting that last inning up for us.”

Pierce was 2-for-3 on the night while Bennett was 2-for-4.

The Trojans will continue their three-game series with Monmouth tonight at 6:00 and will conclude tomorrow at 1p.m.