Troy Baseball drops conference series to Southern Miss

Published 9:14 am Monday, April 3, 2023

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The Troy Trojans (20-9, 4-5) hosted Southern Miss for a Sun Belt Conference baseball series this weekend and dropped two of three games to fall below .500 in conference play.

The series loss drops Troy to eighth in the conference ahead of a big non-conference midweek clash with Alabama this week.

In game one against Southern Miss on March 31, the Trojans fell by a score of 4-1. Southern Miss held on to a 1-0 lead, gained in the second inning, for much of the game before expanding that lead to 4-0 in the top of the eighth inning. Troy ‘s William Sullivan belted a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth but that was the only run of the day for the home squad.

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Sullivan led Troy at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, an RBI and a run, while Caleb Bartolero went 2-for-4, as well. Brady Fuller took the loss on the mound, pitching seven and 2/3 innings with six strikeouts along with giving up six hits and four earned runs.

In game two on April 1, the Sun Belt’s Home Run King was at it again as Shane Lewis hit a walk-off solo home run in extra innings to secure a 5-4 win for Troy.

Despite trailing 4-2 going into the eighth inning, Lewis belted an RBI single that drove Ethan Kavanagh home to cut the lead to 4-3 and then Bartolero drove Donovan Whibbs home to tie the score. The two sides remained tied after the ninth inning leading to extra play.

In the top of the 10th, Zach Fruit mowed down the first two Golden Eagle batters and then Lance Gardiner caught a pop fly at shortstop to get the third out. Lewis was the second Trojan batter up in the bottom of the inning leading to the game-winning dinger.

Lewis finished the afternoon 3-for-5 at the plate with a home run, a double, two RBIs and a run as the only Trojan with multiple hits. Kyle Mock and Ozark native Brooks Bryan, who played for Troy Post 70’s World Series team, also belted home runs in the win.

Fruit earned the win on the mound with seven strikeouts and no hits or runs allowed in four innings pitched. Logan Ross pitched three and 1/3 innings and fanned two batters, while giving up one hit and no runs.

While the win over Southern Miss snapped a six-game losing streak to Southern Miss, dating back to 2015, Troy still needed one more win to capture the series. Unfortunately, Southern Miss took the series deciding game by a score of 13-3 on Sunday.

Troy struggled all afternoon at the plate, earning just five hits and six walks as a team. Bartolero went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double, while Kole Myers hit a home run.

Troy went up 3-0 in the first inning and Southern Miss answered by scoring 13 unanswered runs to seal the win.

Troy’s pitching staff had a tough outing, with five total players touching the mound and giving up a combined 15 hits and eight earned runs. Grayson Stewart took the loss as he retired five batters along with giving up four hits and no earned runs in five innings pitched.

For the series, Slade Wilks, who went a combined 4-for-14 at the plate with three home runs, eight RBIs and three runs, led Southern Miss at the plate. On the mound, Billy Oldham struck out seven batters and gave up three hits with no runs in four and 2/3 innings pitched, while Tanner Hall mowed down six batters and gave up six hits with one earned run in nine innings.

Sullivan and Lewis came into the Southern Miss series No. 1 and No. 2 in home runs in the conference and leave it the same way. Lewis’ 14 homers is ranked first in the conference, while Sullivan’s 13 is second. Lewis is now tied for fourth in the entire country in home runs. His 44 RBIs also ranks fourth in the country and first in the Sun Belt.

Troy takes a break from conference play on Tuesday, April 4, for an in-state showdown with the SEC’s Alabama in Tuscaloosa at 6 p.m. Alabama holds a three game winning streak over the Trojans, dating back to 2019, and the last time the Trojans beat the Crimson Tide was on April 2, 2019, in Tuscaloosa. Alabama leads the all-time series with Troy 25-12, dating back to the two teams’ first matchup in 1975. Troy is 2-4 in the last six games with Alabama.

This season, though, the Trojans are 3-0 against in-state opponents with wins over UAB and Alabama State. The Trojans have a total of 12 games against in-state opponents this season, including one with UAB, two with Alabama State, two with Jacksonville State, one with Auburn, one vs. Samford, two against Alabama and a three-game conference series with South Alabama.

Following the midweek matchup with the Tide, Troy remains on the road this weekend for a conference series at Arkansas State April 6-8.