Over and out: Despite early leads, Troy drops two games on Sunday to bring season to a close

Published 6:31 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

Troy head coach Mark Smartt urged his players to keep their heads up as they headed out of Foley Field on Sunday evening after they fell to Duke 15-6 in the semifinals of the Athens Regional on the campus of the University of Georgia.

The Trojans finished the 2018 season with a 42-21 record.

“I am really proud of how our team represented Troy in this tournament,” said Troy head coach Mark Smartt. “It was a tough day today (Sunday) certainly. It didn’t go our way, but we accomplished a lot of positive things.”

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The Trojans jumped out to a 4-0 start in the first inning against the Blue Devils, but troubles on the mound led to a lackluster finish.

“There’s not much to brag about with that game,” said head coach Mark Smartt. “We got off to a good start. It got away from us. We had an injury on the mound. Daren (Osby) had to come out of the game early and obviously our bullpen didn’t execute well enough to get us a win. Give Duke credit – they swung the bats great.”

Due to inclement weather throughout the first two days of the tournament, the Trojans were forced to play two games on Sunday. They opened up the day with a game with host Georgia. A win would have put the Trojans in the region championship, but an 11-7 loss to the heavy-hitting Bulldogs forced the Trojans to head to the loser’s bracket to take on the Blue Devils later that evening

“Credit Georgia, they whipped us today,” said head coach Mark Smartt. “We didn’t play our best game. In this game – and you’re playing the host team in a 1-0 game – you have to play your best. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t do that today. We didn’t field well enough and we didn’t pitch good enough after the sixth inning.”

The Bulldogs hit four home runs in the game. Both Keegan McGovern and Michael Curry hit two mammoth home runs to help give the Bulldogs the win.

“I thought the park played small and I thought that affected the game on both sides,” Smartt said. “I am not taking anything away from anybody. None of them were cheap. They weren’t pop-ups; I am not suggesting that at all. It’s a hitter-friendly atmosphere and we certainly didn’t make enough quality pitches to keep them in the ball park.”

On a hot, blistering day, the Trojans were forced to play the two games, but Smartt didn’t take the opportunity to use that as an excuse for his team’s poor play in the night cap.

“I don’t want to go there,” Smartt said. “I thought we had good energy to start that game. I thought the score probably added to the fatigue maybe. We just couldn’t get them out. They kept hitting doubles and home runs. At the end, maybe we looked a little tired, but that’s not why we lost today.”

The Blue Devils came in with the reputation of having a strong bullpen. On Sunday, the Blue Devil pen allowed two runs on five hits over the course of 8.1 innings. Ethan DeCaster pitched the first 4.1 innings while Jarvis finished off the last 4.

“DeCaster is a different guy, an underneath guy,” Smartt said. “I thought we had good at-bats against him.  We didn’t get much out of it, but I thought we did some good work. Jarvis, we didn’t do anything with. He was really good. He threw against us the other night. Tonight, he was special.”

Troy’s bullpen, in comparison, allowed a combined 12 earned runs over the course of seven innings. Combining that with game one against Georgia, the Trojans pen was on the hook for 14 runs in 10.1 innings.

“We didn’t pitch well out of the pen this weekend – today in particular,” Smartt said. “Part of it is that a tournament is a different rhythm completely. I’m not making any excuses for anybody, but those guys really didn’t have a lot of rhythm coming into the Sun Belt Tournament and this tournament. They didn’t execute very well.”

Troy’s 42 wins this season is sixth most in team history.

“This has been a wonderful team to coach and I am proud of how they represented this program,” Smartt said. “We made a Regional as an at-large selection, won 42 games and have a lot to be proud of.