Trojans host South Alabama

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Troy Trojans hope to secure third place in the Sun Belt when they welcome the first place South Alabama Jaguars to Riddle-Pace Field in the final series of the 2016 regular season.

After sweeping their way through Georgia State last weekend, the Trojans (30-23, 15-12) confidence is riding high as they welcome the Jaguars.

“It’s a good way to close out the year against an in-state rival,” said Trojans head coach Mark Smartt. “South Alabama is always one of the better teams in our league and this year is no different. We have a sincere challenge in front of us.”

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Game one will feature two aces in Jaguar starting pitcher Kevin Hill and Troy pitcher Grant Bennett.

Hill is widely considered the top pitcher in the league and he will take his 8-1 record against the Trojans.

“I am really looking forward to the first game when Grant Bennett, our best guy, faces Kevin Hill,” Smartt said. “It should be one heck of a game. It’s two really good pitchers going after one another. It will be interesting to see how that game shakes out.”

The Trojans, who have struggled to score runs all season, broke out for a total of 29 runs in the series against the Panthers. In the four games leading up the series the Trojans managed only 10 runs.

“I was glad to see that. Runs have been hard to come by as of late,” Smartt said. “We had a lot of good things going on offensively. Most importantly we took advantage of opportunities. I am not sure we will have a ton of opportunities against a quality pitcher like Hill, but I can assure you that if we win the game we will have taken advantage of those opportunities.”

Following Thursday’s action, the pitching matchup on Friday will be Lucas Brown against Randy Bell. On Saturday, Houston Mabray will be going up against Austin Bembnowski in the series finale.

“Starting pitching has been the formula for our success all year,” Smartt said. “Our starting pitching has really carried us to where we are at in our season. If we have success this weekend in will probably be in large part to their success.”

Smartt would go on to mention that he would put his rotation up against anybody in the conference.

With just these three games remaining, the Trojans find themselves in fourth place just a game behind Little Rock, who sits in third place. The Trojans would love nothing more to catch Little Rock and gain momentum heading into next week’s conference tournament.

“I think that it is really important,” Smartt said. “We are trying to reach the highest seeding that we can achieve which is third. We are going to fight and try to win the series so we can climb to third. I do think our performance this weekend does have some carry over into the tournament. With that being said, I challenge our team to play at our best level.”

Game one between the Jaguars and the Trojans is set for 6 p.m. today with game two at 6 p.m. Friday night. The two teams will close out the series and the regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday.