Troy looking to end season with two Sun Belt titles

Published 10:25 pm Monday, May 20, 2013

The Troy baseball team boarded a bus bound for Lafayette, La., and the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championships that begin on Wednesday.

The Trojans enter the double-elimination tournament as the No. 1 seed and will take on eight-seeded Arkansas State at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’re excited. It’s always an exciting time,” said head coach Bobby Pierce.

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“Coming off a series win at South Alabama and a conference championship, this is what these guys come here to do. I give a lot of credit to our seniors and returning players. Coming off last year when we had a down year, the returning guys began leading this team the right way from day one.”

Troy was crowned regular season co-champions with South Alabama after a series win over the Jaguars last weekend. The Trojans entered the series one game behind South Alabama in the conference standings. After falling in the opener, Troy rallied to take the final two games to earn a share of the regular season title. The Sun Belt tie-break procedures gave Troy the top seed in the tournament.

“That rivalry took another step up,” right fielder Danny Collins said of the emotional weekend. “To have something like a one game, winner-take-all situation like we did is incredible.”

Now the Trojans are looking for revenge against the team that ended its nation-leading home winning streak at 18 games, Arkansas State. Troy fell in the team’s final home game of the season, 15-14, to the Red Wolves in a game Troy once trailed 14-1.

“We took a lot of pride in the streak. We don’t like to get beat on our field,” said senior outfielder Josh McDorman. “We’ll have that in the back of our minds.”

Pierce went a step further complimenting the team’s comeback effort.

“It was a heck of a game,” Pierce said. “We were lucky to come away with two wins in that series but that final game says a lot about these guys.”

Troy entered most national polls this week heading into the conference tournament. Collegiate Baseball ranked Troy No. 21, Perfect Game placed them No. 22 while the Trojans came in at No. 23 in the Baseball America poll and received voted in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll.

The regular season conference title is Troy’s second in the last three year. Ironically, the Trojans claimed the 2011 title after a series win against South Alabama in Mobile.

After picking the regular season conference crown, the Trojans are projected as a No. 2 seed in several regional tournaments, including the Tallahassee site, hosted by Florida State University.