Troy Pre-Majors fall in state tournament opener

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

TUSCUMBIA – The Troy Dixie Pre-Majors team fell to Sand Mountain 12-7 in the opening game of the state tournament here on Thursday.

“We definitely did not play our best game,” said head coach Gary Fox. “All teams at all levels have games like that, and today was not our day.”

Fox said “ill-timed” errors proved costly for the Troy team, as they gave up seven runs in the first two innings on eight hits and three errors.

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“That hurt us,” he said. “We gave up those seven runs in the first two innings and then held them to five runs in the next five innings.”

Despite the bumpy start on defense, Troy was strong at the plate, taking the lead 4-3 after the first inning. “We started out well in the first inning,” Fox said. “Everybody was hitting the ball and hitting it well …

“Then our bats just went cold. They went cold in the heat.”

Troy had five hits in the first inning. John Stephen Grice singled, Reilly Fox singled, Cole Wilson doubled with 2 RBIs and Miles Loving singled with an RBI to start the inning for Troy. Blake Craft also hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Loving, and Adam Grice tripled, putting Troy up 4-3 at the end of the first..

“But then we only had one other hit the rest of the game,” Fox said. It was single by Connor Wood in the third inning.

Troy made a pitching change in the third inning, bringing in Ty Witherington to replace starter Blake Craft, who struck out one batter during his two innings on the mound. Witherington pitched the remaining five innings.

“One thing I definitely will say is that Ty Witherington pitched a great game,” Fox said. “He pitched well enough to win. We just made too many errors behind him and the errors we made were ill-timed.”

Witherington threw 12 ground ball outs and gave up four hits with four walks.

Fox said bobbled catches and overthrown balls accounted for most of the additional four errors Troy recorded. “That’s not our game,” he said. “And it’s frustrating because that’s not Troy baseball.”

Two key base-running outs also were a factor, he said. “The only mental errors we made today are the two I made as coach,” he said.

In the third inning, Miles Loving was thrown out while attempting to steal third base. “That really hurt because the next batter walked and we would have had bases loaded with no outs,” Fox said. “There’s a big difference between that and runners on first and second with one out.”

In the fourth inning, Wright Graning was thrown out at third on a 5-3-5 double play. “I just didn’t expect them to get that ball back across the field from first base that fast,” Fox said.

The team plays East Montgomery at 1:30 p.m. Friday in an elimination game.

“We’re going to take it one pitch at a time,” Fox said, adding that the team is playing a man down with catcher Drew Starling recovering from surgery in Troy and juggling outside commitments for other players. “And, based on our players’ commitment to school programs, we’re going to be playing with only nine players on Friday, so we’re looking for help from Justin Helms and Nathan Fox.”