Troy’s Hicks contributes as starter, out of the bullpen

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

After Troy and Florida Atlantic dueled to a 1-1 draw on Thursday before the game was suspended due to lightning in the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament, those looking at the box score saw a familiar name, Tanner Hicks.

Hicks wasn’t the starter in the game, he pitched in relief. In fact, he pitched in relief for the third time in the last week.

After starting 13 games in the regular season as the team’s Friday starter, Hicks was called upon to close out Game 2 against South Alabama in the season’s final series. He did so by pitching three and a third innings earning the win. The following day, Hicks tossed the final four innings to seal Troy’s win in the series finale picking up the save and giving the Trojans a share of the Sun Belt regular season title.

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Hicks made his third relief appearance on Thursday entering the game in the eighth inning against Florida Atlantic and pitching the final two innings.

“I just pitch when they tell me to pitch. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s as a starter or reliever,” Hicks said. “As long as we win, I’m happy.”

The Trojans shook up the pitching rotation for the South Alabama series and did so again for the tournament.

In the tournament opener, true freshman Levi Tate opened the game on the mound pitching two and a third innings. Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Shane McCain started the game on Thursday.

“Yeah, we might throw a few wrinkles in there,” head coach Bobby Pierce said before the team left for the tournament on Monday. “We have several options we could go with.”

Pierce said he still favors the round-robin tournament format that the Sun Belt used last season before voting to return to the traditional double-elimination style.

“I still like the round-robin, I think it gives teams advancing to a regional an advantage when it comes to pitching. I would have liked to see us stay with that format but they voted to go back to the double-elimination and that’s what we’ve got,” he said.

Troy is projected by many publications to earn an at-large bid to a regional tournament even if they don’t win the conference tournament and get the league’s automatic bid.

Troy and FAU will continue the game, which was suspended in the top of the ninth with the Owls batting with two outs, at 11 a.m. today.