Troy loses six-run lead in final two innings to fall to South Alabama

Published 10:42 pm Friday, March 15, 2013

Was it given away or was it taken away? Depending on which team you root for will determine the answer.

Troy squandered a six-run eighth inning lead to fall to South Alabama 11-10 on Friday at Riddle-Pace Field.

The Trojans led 10-4 heading into the eighth inning before South Alabama scored a pair of runs off Troy reliever Robert Price. Everything seemed fine heading into the ninth when Troy inserted Matthew Howard, who had not surrendered a run in 11 1/3 innings this season. Howard struck out two batters sandwiched around a single. Jeff DeBliuex doubled home a run then Howard walked a batter and gave up an RBI single to Jordan Patterson to make the score 10-8. Nick Zaharion then delivered the decisive blow with a three-run home run to left field to give the Jaguars the lead.

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“They pecked away and got a couple of runs, then they got a hit from a guy who hadn’t hit much going into this series,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “You’ve got to make pitches when you’ve got to make pitches.”

Troy fought back from a 3-0 deficit early. Starter Tanner Hicks allowed a trio of runs in the opening frame but settled down to go seven innings allowing four runs total on eight hits.

The Troy bats weren’t shy throughout. The Trojans pounded out 19 hits off four South Alabama pitchers. Jaguars starter Jacob Noble entered the game 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA but was pulled after facing just 13 batters.

Troy scored eight unanswered runs over the next four and a half innings. The Trojans scored two in the first, one in the second and two each in the fourth and fifth innings.

“I don’t ever remember not winning a game where we got 19 hits,” Pierce said. “We were in control of the game since we came back in the third. Up 10-4 in the eighth, you certainly feel like you should win the game.”

Catcher Brandon Brown led the way for Troy out of the No. 9 hole. He finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Tyler Vaughn continued his hot hitting with a 4-for-6 performance and scored a pair of runs.

Trae Santos was 3-for-5 while Logan Pierce and Josh McDorman had a pair of hits each.

Patterson finished 4-for-5 for the Jaguars and Dustin Dalkin was 3-for-5 with two home runs.

The Trojans saw Ali Knowles get some playing time, his first since injuring his wrist in the season’s opening series against Florida A&M.

Troy (11-5, 0-1 Sun Belt) and South Alabama (16-3, 1-0) will play the middle game of the three-game series tonight at 6 p.m.

Will Starling (3-1) will get the start on the mound and look to even the series at a game each.