Home Run Party: Trojans open 2023 with sweep of Evansville

The Troy Trojans (3-0) got the 2023 baseball season off to a hot start with a 3-0 series sweep over the Evansville Aces (0-3) this weekend at home.

On opening day, Feb. 17, Troy dismantled Evansville 12-7 as fans got a chance to see the new-look Riddle-Pace Field up close for the first time. Despite Evansville jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, off a solo home run, the Trojans scored four unanswered runs in the next two innings to take control of the game.

Troy finished the evening with 14 hits as a team with four home runs. Both William Sullivan and Hartford transfer Tremayne Cobb Jr. earned three hits each. Sullivan went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, a pair of doubles and three runs, while Cobb went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, a stolen base and two runs. Ethan Kavanagh went 2-for-5 with a double and a run, while Caleb Bartolero went 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs. Clay Stearns, Chipola College transfer Shane Lewis and Kole Myers also hit home runs, while Ben Arnett earned a triple.

Grady Gorgen got the win on the mound, pitching one and 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and no hits or runs allowed. Brady Fuller pitched four innings and struck out seven batters along with giving up five hits and two earned runs. Noah Manning also pitched one and 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and one earned run. Kristian Asbury pitched an inning and struck out three batters, while giving up three hits and three runs. Taiga Yamane pitched one inning and struck out three batters, while giving up no hits or runs. Stearns earned 15 putouts and one assist at catcher, while Sullivan tallied seven putouts and two double plays at first base.

In game two, on Feb. 18, Troy bested Evansville 8-7 in extra innings. This time around, Troy trailed 3-0 going into the fourth inning before Lewis hit a three-run home run that also drove Sullivan and Stearns home to tie the score. Evansville retook the lead 4-3 in the sixth inning and stretched it to 5-3 in the seventh with a solo homer.

Neither team scored a run in the eighth inning and Troy went into the ninth needing two runs to force extra innings. Ozark freshman – and Troy Post 70 veteran – Brooks Bryan belted a solo homer in the ninth inning to cut the lead to 5-4 and then Hudson Hartsfield hit an RBI double that drove Kole Myers home to tie the score and force extra innings.

In the top of the 10th inning, Evansville scored two runs to go up 7-5 but Troy answered right back in the bottom of the inning. Lewis hit an RBI single that drove Cobb home and then Enterprise native Parker Sessions hit an RBI single into left field that drove Brady Moore in for the tying run. Lewis scored the game-winning run off an RBI from Myers.

Lewis led Troy at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs, while Myers went 2-for-5 with an RBI, a double, three stolen bases and a run. Bryan went 1-for-1 with a homer, an RBI and a run.

Noah Manning got the win on the mound with 1/3 of an inning pitched, while Keaton Fuller pitched four and 2/3 innings with four strikeouts. He also gave up four hits and two earned runs. Zach Fruit pitched four innings and struck out eight batters, while allowing two hits and two earned runs. Ben Thompson struck out two batters and gave up two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. Bartolero had 14 putouts and Sullivan earned seven.

Game three, on Feb. 20, was another nail-biter as the Trojans pulled out an 11-10 win over Evansville. Bartolero got the Trojans off to a fast start with a solo homer in the first inning, but Evansville answered by scoring a run in each of the next two innings to take a 2-1 lead. Troy then scored nine unanswered runs in the next four innings to take a sizeable 10-2 lead into the eighth inning.

Evansville went to work in the eighth, scoring six runs to cut Troy’s lead to 10-8. In the bottom of the eighth, Sullivan hit a solo homer to stretch the lead to 11-8, though. In the top of the ninth, Evansville scored another pair of runs to come within one run of tying the score. With two down, and the tying run on third, Evansville’s Kip Fougerousse grounded out at second base as the Trojans secured their third straight win of the weekend.

Troy’s bats were hot again as the Trojans earned 12 hits and four homers as a team with five players totaling two or more hits. Bartolero led the way, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles, an RBI and two runs, while Sullivan went 2-for-3 with a homer, a triple, three RBIs and two runs. Stearns, Lewis and Hartsfield each earned two hits with Stearns and Lewis belting home runs. Cobb, Lewis, Hartsfield and Hudson each stole two bases.

Grayson Stewart saw his first action on the mound and picked up his first win of the season, striking out five batters, while giving up six hits and two earned runs in five innings pitched. Logan Ross struck out three batters and gave up no hits or runs in one and 1/3 innings pitched. Stearns tallied nine putouts and one assist, while Sullivan and Lewis had four putouts each.

Sullivan finished the weekend 6-of-11 at the plate with a home run, two doubles, a triple, four RBIs and six runs along with two double plays and 18 putouts on defense. Lewis tallied three home runs and both Bartolero and Stearns had two homers over the weekend. Bartolero earned 17 putouts and one assist, while Stearns tallied 24 putouts and two assists on the defensive end.

Troy remains at home on Feb. 21 against Alabama State at 6 p.m. before hosting another series this weekend against Stony Brook Feb. 24-26.