By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy baseball coach Ty Welker knew the first week of the season was likely the toughest stretch his young team would see all season.
It was also designed that way intentionally.
And after the Trojans dropped a hard-fought 2-0 matchup at Springboro on Tuesday in a game that had originally been scheduled as a home game but had to be moved due to the weather, Troy returned home Wednesday to face an always-tough Beavercreek team. And though they played solid defensively again and had chances offensively throughout, the Trojans simply couldn’t find ways to get runs home in a 4-0 loss to the Beavers at Market Street Field.
“I think, I hope, that we put this schedule together for a reason — that these guys can handle it,” Welker said. “These guys have aspirations to be a great baseball team. We’re a little young, but that’s not an excuse — and we’ve seen some great baseball teams already.
“These, the Beavercreeks and Springboros, they’re the kind of teams we’d see in the sectional finals. If we can see them now, at the end of March we know. We’re not delusional about how good we are or aren’t. We know what good baseball looks like.”
And the Trojans (1-3) are quickly finding out that they’re capable of playing good baseball.
Against Springboro (2-1) on Tuesday, sophomore Cole Brogan threw a solid game. He struck out five and walked none, giving up only two fourth-inning runs in the 2-0 loss — which came on a suicide squeeze followed by an RBI double.
“Cole threw really, really well,” Welker said. “For a sophomore, and that team (Springboro) probably hits better than Beavercreek, and he shut them down. No walks, complete game, 89 pitches … very, very impressive. It was a real good game overall, and he pitched a dandy.”
Wednesday’s matchup against the Beavers (2-1) ended up being the same kind of game — solid pitching and defense, just with a lack of punch at the plate.
Beavercreek’s Brandon Dewitt, who the Trojans fast in a 10-0 loss to the Beavers last season, held Troy in check. He allowed three hits and walked two while striking out 10 — with six of those on called third strikes. Austin Nuessgen pitched the seventh and added two more strikeouts, with the final out of the game coming on a seventh called third strike for Troy on the day.
“He (Dewitt) threw against us last year and shut us out down there, as well,” Welker said. “We faced him last year. He works fast, is around the zone — and we took too many pitches with two strikes and too many fastballs early in the count. We certainly have to get a more aggressive approach and be more offensive. We weren’t very offensive today.”
Troy left a total of five baserunners on in the game — four in scoring position. After Beavercreek took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, Chaz Copas hit an infield single but was left stranded on second on a called third strike to end the inning. And in the fourth, trailing 4-0, Brandon Emery and Keiran Williams drew walks and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, but another batter caught looking and a groundout to second ended the threat.
For the game, Troy was 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position with four strikeouts — all looking at the third strike.
“We don’t get the hit with guys in scoring position,” Welker said. “That goes back to taking fastballs — and in those situations, you should never take a fastball. If you’ve got a guy in scoring position, you’ve got to put a ball in play, and we didn’t do that enough. No contact with guys in scoring position really hurts. That’s just something we’ve got to grow and mature on.”
Sophomore Jacob Adams led the Trojans offensively, going 2 for 3, with Copas and Jake Daniel each also having a hit.
Beavercreek’s first run came in the second after a single by Dewitt, a sacrifice bunt, a steal attempt of third base and an errant throw on the play to bring him home. And in the third, Corey Jordison hit an RBI double and, after a balk moved runners up to second and third, Treyben Funderburg hit a two-run single to left to make it a 4-0 game.
It all spoiled a solid outing by a pair of sophomore pitchers. Starter Braeden Snider went the first three innings, giving up four runs — three earned — on four hits and two walks with one strikeout. Matt Bigley pitched the final four innings of relief, allowing only one hit and striking out one.
“We’re young,” Welker said. “We’re playing quite a few sophomores and juniors in key roles — and I’m thrilled to death with it (how Troy has played to start the season). Surely, I want us to grow and get better. I’d love to win baseball games — that’s the goal — but I think the lessons we’re learning are more valuable than anything at this point, win or loss. They’re not playoff games — they’re getting us ready for playoff games. They’re not league games — they’re getting us ready for league games.”
Troy has another tough matchup Thursday, hosting perennial powerhouse Centerville, and also hosts Waynesville Saturday before beginning Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play Monday and Tuesday with a series against Greenville.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.