Coming up aces: Thomas nearly no-hits Lions in Troy’s 5-0 win

Published 9:51 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

Levi Thomas had a no-hit bid come to a close with one out in the eighth inning, but the Trojans pulled out a 5-0 win over in-state foe North Alabama on Friday night at Riddle-Pace Field.

Thomas left to a standing ovation after he pitched 7.1 innings of hitless baseball. He allowed two walks and one batter reached on an error. Thomas left the game with 11 strikeouts.

“The story was Levi Thomas,” said head coach Mark Smartt. “That was fun to watch. He dominated from the start. He had a good fastball, had some life on it with good command. The breaking ball was crisp. He showed great poised tonight, he had great tempo. I’m really proud of what he accomplished.”

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With Thomas’ pitch count climbing, the original plan was to get him out of the game after seven innings. After telling coach Smartt he was good to go back, he made an appearance in the eighth.

“He has earned that,” Smartt said. “I trust him to tell me the truth. His stuff was fine in the eighth, the kid just got a base hit.”

Thomas’ fastball reached the low 90’s for much of the game, topping out at around 93 mph.

“Fastball and slider, that combo, coach Hancock and I have really pounded the off-speed,” Thomas said. “I owe him everything. The fastball and slider was really working tonight.”

The win for the Trojans snapped a small two-game losing streak and they now sit at 7-6 on the season.

After a quiet first three-and-a-half innings, the Trojans broke through in the bottom of the fourth. They sent seven batters to the plate and scored three runs.

After having just three base runners in the first three innings, the Trojans had two singles in the fourth.

Chase Smartt drove in Sadler Goodwin with a hard-hit double to right center to give Troy a 1-0 lead. With Smartt at third and Tanner Jackson on second, Logan Cerny singled to center to up the Trojans lead to 3-0.

Frederic led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left field and came around to score on a wild pitch to extend Troy’s lead to five at 5-0.

Frederic and Rigsby Mosley reached on a walk and a single to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. After advancing 90 feet, Frederic came around to score on a sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 5-0.

After getting the first out of the inning, Thomas was taken out after allowing his first hit of the night. Lance Johnson entered the game and picked up the final five outs of the game.

The Trojans finished with nine hits led by Frederic, Sadler Goodwin and Cerny, who all picked up two hits.

The Trojans will conclude their final non-conference series of the year on Saturday when they take on North Alabama in a double header beginning at 1 p.m. The Trojans and Lions were scheduled to finish out the three-game series on Sunday, but the threat of poor weather has forced a double header on Saturday.

“It’s the fourth straight weekend,” Smartt said. “It seems like it’s a theme this year. Double header Saturdays. It’s unfortunate. We build three-game weekends for a reason. One game a day is enough at this level. Our team should be prepared; we have done it every weekend.”