By Josh Brown
TROY — Zach Kendall pitched like he has all year.
Alex Demore and Collin Moeller continued to heat up as they have the past couple of weeks.
And in the end after threatening the first couple of innings but getting nothing, Troy (15-9) broke through Friday against Fairborn and Kendall tossed a four-hit shutout — and got a pair of big plays at the plate to preserve it — in a 5-0 Trojan victory at Market Street Field.
With the way Kendall was throwing — and the way the defense was playing — all Troy was likely to need was one run.
After giving up a one-out walk and a stolen base in the first inning, Kendall struck out the next two batters to leave a runner in scoring position. Fairborn got a leadoff double in the second, but again Kendall worked his way out of trouble. And in the third, Fairborn (10-16) tried to score a runner from second on a bunt after Kendall had thrown to first for one out, but Demore threw home to starting catcher Tyler Lambert — a JV call-up — who applied the tag to finish off the double play.
And in the fourth, Fairborn threatened again with a one-out double followed directly by a single up the middle, but center fielder Greg Johnson threw it in to Kevin McGraw, who relayed it to Alex Magoteaux at the plate to nail another runner trying to score from second.
After that, Kendall set down the next seven he faced before hitting the leadoff hitter in the ninth. That runner made it to third with one out, but Kendall got two strikeouts to close out the game. He finished with 10 strikeouts, one walk and two hit-batters.
“Zach threw the ball well and battled today,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “He did exactly what he’s supposed to do, exactly what he’s done all year for us.”
Still, Troy needed to put some numbers up of its own to actually post the win. In each of the first two innings, however, the first two batters reached base with no one out — and the Trojans came up empty both times.
“We were concerned early on since we left so many guys on base,” Welker said. “Twice we got two on with no outs and couldn’t score. You just can’t do that. But we finally scored in the third and broke it open.”
Kevin McGraw hit a one-out double to start the third-inning rally, and Trenton Wood was hit by a pitch to put two on again. After a flyout and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with two outs, Demore came up with a clutch double by driving the ball to the gap in right-center, plating both runners to give Troy a 2-0 lead. Moeller followed that up with an RBI single past a diving Fairborn shortstop, scoring Demore from second to make it a 3-0 game.
“Alex has been hitting well, and Collin hit the ball hard on the ground today,” Welker said. “Fly balls get caught. I like hard line drives or ground balls, and Collin did a good job of hitting those today.”
Moeller finished the day 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run, scoring on an RBI single by pinch hitter Dalton Cascaden in the fifth, and Demore added a third RBI on a sac fly in the sixth inning.
“Alec has been hitting well the past couple weeks, and Collin is coming on, too,” Welker said. “About the middle of last week, Collin started swinging the bat better and putting the ball in play and hitting to all fields, so he’s been in the lineup more. He’s earned it.”
All of Troy’s RBIs on the night came from hitters in the sixth spot in the lineup or lower, a turn from the weekend’s doubleheader sweep of Tippecanoe where the majority of the production came from the top and meat of the order.
“That’s the way we’ve been all season. If you look at our stats, there’s not one person dominating — which is nice,” Welker said. “When we get guys in scoring position, I feel comfortable with whoever is coming up. There’s no easy out in the lineup, and that’s a sign of a good team.”
Troy finishes the regular season at Northmont today before kicking off tournament play Thursday at home with the winner of Monday’s Wayne-Greenville game.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.