Troy catchers helping team in different ways

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Catchers are known as a baseball team’s quarterback. They wear the tools of ignorance and lead the battery against opponent’s offensive attacks.

For Troy, that responsibility rests on the shoulder of not one but three men.

Brandon Brown, Jake Harrell and Justin Hancock have combined to lead the Trojans to a 37-14 record and a shot at the Sun Belt Conference regular season title.

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Brown, a senior from Dublin, Ga., has been the leader of the pack starting 36 games behind the plate but his road to success hasn’t been a smooth one.

Brown started his career at Kennesaw State where he started 18 games. He transferred to Middle Georgia College for his sophomore campaign where he batted .367. Once on campus at Troy, Brown struggled at the plate batting just .165 in 41 games.

Hoping for brighter days during his senior season, Brown was presented with another obstacle. A thumb injury set the 6-for-3 205-pound athlete back during the preseason and it appeared he would spend his final year as a reserve infielder.

After doctors fitted Brown with a new split just before the start of the season, the pain was reduced to the point where he could resume his catching duties.

“It has definitely been a roller-coaster ride. I kind of see it as a miracle. It’s allowed me to play every day with very limited pain,” Brown said.

Batting just .234, Brown’s contributions have come in the way of managing the Sun Belt’s second-best pitching staff.

Combined Troy hurlers have an ERA of 4.04 and have allowed the fewest hits in the league.

“They have been unbelievable. They go out and compete every day,” Brown said. “There were some question marks with the rotation coming into the season but the way these guys have pitched has been phenomenal.”

Harrell has proven to be a quality backup in his sophomore season batting .220 and has not committed an error in 20 games played.

Coming on of late has been Justin Hancock, a junior from Enterprise.

No one shined brighter over this past weekend’s series triumph over Arkansas State than Hancock.

With Troy trailing Saturday’s game 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and two out, for his first plate appearance in nearly a month. He made the most of it by lining a 1-0 pitch off the wall in left field, scoring Holcomb and tying the game. The Trojans would go on to win the game in the 10th by the score of 4-3.

Hancock wasn’t done in the series though.

On Sunday, in the fourth and Troy fighting back from a 14-1 deficit, Hancock launched a 0-1 pitch to center field for his first career home run, a two-run blast.

“I had a lot of family in the stands so it was nice to hit it in front of them,” he said with a smile. “Mom was real happy that she got a home run on Mother’s Day.”