DM, O-Zone rooks roll to wins at district tourney

Published 11:37 pm Friday, June 20, 2014

It took four innings for the Troy Dixie Minor Rookie bats to come alive, but once they did they stayed hot for the remainder of the day.

Troy fell behind 3-0 in the first inning, but ripped off nine runs in the middle of the game to score a 10-6 win over Eufaula in the first round of the District Tournament in Luverne.

Bryce Betts led off the Troy half of the fourth inning with a triple, and later scored on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Mario Davenport. Kase Chirico and J.D. Wilson also picked up RBIs in the inning. Troy took the lead for good in the fifth inning with a two RBI single from Cobie Cantlow.

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“It took us a little while to get things going,” said Troy coach Chris Huner. “They scored three runs there on us early, but I really liked the way our pitchers were throwing. We had one or two little mistakes that cost us, but overall I really liked how we played today.”

Troy made solid contact at the plate in the early innings, but the hard grounders and fly balls never seemed to find open space or green grass. Huner said he told his players to keep doing what they were doing and the balls would eventually find gaps.

“We just had to keep putting pressure on them ,” said Huner. “I told our players to keep picking out good pitches and we would be ok. The hits started coming and we were able to score some big runs there in the middle of the game.”

With the win, Troy advances to the second round of the District Tournament, but has a substantial break until the next game. Troy bypasses the weekend action, and will play again Monday.

“We don’t play again until Monday, so we have time to relax a little,” Huner said. “We are going to get together late Sunday for a little batting practice and to go over a couple things we saw today. It is big to win the first round and not have to play out of the loser’s bracket the rest of the time. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

O-Zone Rookies rout Eufaula: After giving Troy up four runs in the top of the first, Troy O-Zone Rookies head coach Brett Stallworth told his team that it was their turn to score. It is safe to say they took his words to heart.

Troy responded with seven runs in the bottom of the first, picked up three in the second and closed the game out with nine runs in the third inning to cruise to a 19-4 win over Eufaula in the first round of the District Tournament in Luverne.

“I actually did kind of expect our guys to hit well,” Stallworth said. “We were a little tight in the top of the first , but they settled right down the rest of the game and played well. I liked what I saw from the bottom of the first on.”

Anthony Gurba got the Troy hit parade started with a double to centerfield, scoring Davis Allen. Later in the inning, Walker Stallworth and Levi Sikes plated runs with a single and double respectively. Jackson Senn, Marx Copeland, Avery Ernsberger also had RBI hits in the frame to give Troy a lead they would never relinquish.

In total, Troy pounded out 15 hits and struck out just three times. Stallworth liked what he saw from every player.

“It was a complete team effort,” Stallworth said. “Every player on the team either scored a run or drove a run in. You can’t ask for a much better team night. It is always good to get the tournament started off with a good night, and we did.”

Ernsberger picked up the win on the mound for Troy, allowing only four hits. Ernsberger settled down after a rocky first inning, where he threw 31 pitches, and allowed only one base runner after the first inning.

Ernsberger threw just 16 total pitches in the second and third innings combined.

“The No. 1 starter is out there for a reason,” Stallworth said. “He settled down and threw strikes and got outs. We teach these kids the same way we coach the high school guys. They have bought in to it, and as a coach, you have to like it when that happens.”

Troy will meet Enterprise in the second round of the tournament Saturday at 8 p.m.