By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy baseball coach knew what the challenge would be for his Trojans coming off of a two-game sweep at the hands of Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division leader Butler earlier this week.
“It’s hard, especially after the intensity of the Butler series, where every pitch matters and everybody is so intense,” he said. “The guys have to learn how to balance their emotions and stay focused. But these guys are in the right place right now.”
Thursday — despite even some attempted intervention by Mother Nature — the Trojans were able to get back on track.
Troy (8-9) scored five quick runs against visiting Tecumseh Thursday at Market Street Field, staking pitcher Derek McDonagh — who himself was coming off of pitching a no-hitter last week in a win over Xenia — out to a 5-0 lead after two innings, and the junior did the rest in another impressive complete-game effort, leading the Trojans to an 8-3 victory over the Arrows in non-league play.
After the start of the game was delayed a half hour by sudden afternoon storms, the Trojans wasted no time getting their offense back on track. After being outscored 12-2 by Butler in the two losses combined on Monday and Tuesday, Troy plated run in the top of the first and cashed in four more in the second to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
“I really thought we came out well,” Welker said. “We came out and had some good at-bats with guys in scoring position, which we haven’t had lately. We got hits when guys got to second and third, and the guys just did a real nice job.”
In the first, Hayden Kotwica drew a leadoff walk to start the game, took second after Tecumseh (7-10) botched a rundown on a pickoff play and took third on a wild pitch. Brandon Emery immediately singled him home, ripping a solid shot to right field to give Troy a 1-0 lead.
Four more walks in the second inning helped Troy take control for good. Cole Brogan drew a free pass to lead off the inning and Tyler Brandenburg beat out a one-out infield single, then Matt Bigley walked to load the bases for Kotwica. The senior promptly rifled a two-run single to center, and an error on the throw home allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Emery hit an RBI sac fly to make it a 4-0 game, then Jake Daniel and Keiran Williams both drew two-out walks to load the bases. Jacob Adams walked on four pitches to force in another run and make it 5-0 before the Arrows finally got out of the inning trailing 5-0.
That appeared to be plenty early on for McDonagh, who cruised through the first two innings without allowing a ball to leave the infield. But with one out in the third, No. 9 hitter Evan Maxwell knocked a single into right field to end McDonagh’s hitless innings streak, and an unearned run in the top of the fourth made the score 5-1 Troy.
“Derek always keeps us in the game,” Welker said. “All three runs were unearned. He just throws strikes, struck out seven in the game. He did what he’s supposed to do. And really, that first hit was probably my fault. I called a fastball that I thought the kid couldn’t handle, and the kid was sitting on it. So I take credit for that one. But Derek kept his focus.”
Troy bounced right back in the bottom of the fourth. Jake Daniel led off with a single and Keiran Williams reached on an error, then both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Jacob Adams hit an RBI groundout, Cole Brogan drew a walk and stole second to put runners back on second and third, and Chaz Copas ripped a two-run single back up the middle to make it an 8-1 game.
Tecumseh got two more unearned runs in the top of the fifth to close the gap back to five, and — after a brief but potent rain shower that did not halt play — McDonagh walked and hit the first two batters of the sixth inning. He got even stronger from there, though, striking out the rest of the side in that inning and pitching a one-two-three seventh, striking out the final batter of the game to end it.
McDonagh finished with seven strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters, scattering five hits and giving up no earned runs in the complete game.
“I thought he was going to lose his focus there in that sixth inning,” Welker said. “He walked the first guy, hit the next. But he buckled down and struck out the side — and picked up a little velocity, too.
“We lost a little focus, too, but we had some weird hops. One of their hits, we played the ball right, but it was just a tough play. We had some throwing errors, too. The guys just need to learn to balance their emotions. It’s hard after that intense Butler series. This was a good win for us.”
Kotwica finished the game 1 for 3 but had two RBIs and scored twice, Emery and Copas were each 1 for 3 with two RBIs and Adams was 0 for 3 but had two RBIs as Troy and Tecumseh both had five hits on the day and both committed three errors as teams.
Troy remains at home Friday, hosting Graham.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.