By Josh Brown
TROY — It took only six minutes for Butler to finish off the damage it started back on Tuesday night.
But Troy had done plenty of damage of its own on Wednesday.
So on Thursday as both teams met at Market Street Field again to finish off Tuesday’s suspended game in the ninth, the Aviators tacked on one more insurance run and then set the Trojans down one-two-three in the bottom half of the inning to finalize a 3-1 Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division victory — one that merely means that both teams control their own destiny and are in line to share the league title after the series split.
The game had been suspended due to lightning immediately after Alex Murphy hit a two-out triple that put Butler (13-7, 6-2) up 2-1 in the top of the ninth inning, putting Troy’s back to the wall.
“After two nights ago, after that triple with two outs and then the lightning, our question was can we recover from this?” Troy baseball coach Ty Welker said. “Our dugout was quiet, guys were disappointed — and we knew we had to go to their place the next day.”
But the Trojans (10-7, 6-2) responded in a big way on Wednesday, beating the Aviators 11-6 on the road to put the pressure back on Butler to finish off Tuesday’s game.
“Even though we fell behind Tuesday, and even though we lost today, we still went to their place on Wednesday and took care of business decisively,” Welker said. “As much as we hate to lose any game, and as much as we wanted to rally and win this one today, we’re still in a better place today than we were two days ago.”
Troy found itself in the exact same place it left off two days ago — on the field, at least — with Murphy standing on third base after his go-ahead triple with two outs in the top of the ninth. Ryan Lavy, who closed out the seventh in the Trojans’ win on Wednesday, took the hill to replace Zach Kendall, who threw a tremendous 8 2-3 innings on Tuesday.
But Butler’s Nic Martin lined Lavy’s first pitch into left field for an RBI single, giving the Aviators a 3-1 lead. Lavy induced a groundout to end the top of the inning, bringing up Troy’s seven-eight-nine hitters in the bottom of the ninth. Butler’s original starter for the game, Jacob Larger, returned to the mound and got a groundout and a pair of strikeouts to put an official end to the game.
Thursday’s action began at 4:56 p.m. and ended at 5:02 p.m.
Kendall’s final line in the game was three hits, two walks, three runs and eight strikeouts over 8 2-3 innings. Larger gave up five hits, walked two and struck out four in a complete game, giving up only an RBI double to Kevin McGraw back in the second inning and leaving eight runners stranded on base — including five over the seventh and eighth innings combined.
Still, Troy and Butler both go into next week controlling their own destinies — but with the Trojans having a slightly better grip and easier road. Troy’s final two GWOC North games are against 0-9 Trotwood, which has been outscored 172-2 this season according to the GWOC website and lost to Greenville 39-0 Wednesday night. The Aviators, meanwhile, face 6-10 Sidney, with both of those series on Monday and Tuesday.
Welker knows the position his team is in — and he knows they still have to be ready to play, no matter what the situation.
“We’ve got to make sure we stay focused and ready to go. We’ve still got to execute and play baseball,” Welker said. “Butler still has a team to play, too. But if we take care of our business and win out, the worst we can do is co-division champions.
“We say all year long that it’s a 10-round heavyweight fight. Each game is a round, and we’ve only lost two in eight rounds so far. We feel pretty good about that — but we’ve still got two rounds to go. There’s still one week of the season left to play.”
Troy will tune up for the Trotwood series today at Lebanon and on Saturday at home in a doubleheader against Tippecanoe.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.