By Josh Brown
TROY — Derek McDonagh was well aware that he was flirting with an opening-day no-hitter.
After all, the Troy senior already knows what it’s like to throw one.
“I was trying,” he said with a laugh. “I was trying.”
And even though Greenville broke up his no-hit bid with a one-out single in the top of the fifth, McDonagh got payback in the bottom half of the inning when he drove a walkoff two-run single back up the middle to complete a run-rule victory to open the regular season as the Trojans shut out Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rival Greenville 10-0 Monday at Market Street Field.
McDonagh — who pitched a complete game no-hitter in a 6-0 victory over Xenia last season — saw one Green Wave runner reach in the second and fourth innings on errors but maintained his no-hitter going into the fifth. But Alec Fletcher rolled a one-out single back up the middle to break up that bid — and McDonagh struck out the next two batters to end that inning with an 8-0 lead.
“I wasn’t really disappointed,” McDonagh said of not getting a second no-hitter. “I was just trying to put the ball in the zone and let my defense play for me. If they got a hit, they got a hit.”
The Trojans then loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fifth, and McDonagh ended the game early with a two-run single to make it 10-0.
“It felt great. I didn’t even know the game was over,” McDonagh said. “I just went out there and hit it, and everyone started cheering — and then we’re done. It was a great feeling, though.”
McDonagh finished the game 2 for 3 at the plate with a stolen base, a run and three RBIs. And on the mound, he struck out nine, walked none and gave up only one hit.
“He threw well,” Troy coach Ty Welker said of McDonagh. “First and foremost, he threw a nice game. He was in charge, he threw his offspeed pitch for strikes, had nine strikeouts in five innings. He throws with confidence because he knows he’s got guys behind him that will make plays when they need to. Derek had a nice opening day.”
The Trojans were in charge from the first pitch, too.
After a one-two-three inning by McDonagh in the top of the first, Troy plated three runs in the bottom of the inning and never looked back. Matt McGillivary drew a leadoff walk and Brandon Emery hit an infield single, then a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out. Keiran Williams then dropped down a bunt and Greenville’s pitcher threw the ball away after mishandling it, allowing two runs to score on the error. Cole Brogan followed that up with a two-out RBI double, giving the Trojans a 3-0 lead.
Troy loaded the bases in the second with one out, but a diving catch by Greenville left fielder Reed Hanes turned into an inning-ending double play. But the Trojans weren’t done, plating five more runs in the third. Williams singled to lead off, Jacob Adams drew a walk and Brogan bunted for a single to load the bases with no outs. Wave starter Owen Paulus got a strikeout for the first out, but Austin Kloeker reached on an error that scored two more runs to keep the rally going. McDonagh hit an RBI single, then Emery took a two-run double the other way to the fence in left and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple — but Troy still held an 8-0 lead after three.
“We left some runs out there, too,” Welker said. “We hit the ball hard, though. Probably our two hardest-hit balls were caught. They made a nice play on one in the second and we got a kid doubled off. That was silly base-running. But I thought we hit the ball better. We still didn’t execute in a couple situations, we didn’t get some bunts down, but scoring 10 runs? We’re very happy.”
Eight of the nine Trojans in the lineup scored at least one run in the game. Emery was 2 for 2 with a walk, a double, two RBIs and a run, Brogan was 2 for 2 with a double, a walk, an RBI and two runs, Kloeker was 2 for 3 with a run, Williams was 1 for 3 with two runs, McGillivary walked twice and scored once and Matt Bigley and Adams each had a walk and a run.
With the win, the Trojans — who finished third in the GWOC American North last season behind Butler and newcomer Tippecanoe — begin the season 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the division, while Greenville falls to 0-1 and 0-1 in the North. The teams were scheduled to meet again at Greenville Tuesday to complete the season series.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a season start with a league game. That’s tough,” Welker said. “And we haven’t played Greenville real well — we’ve split with them the last two years — but we played well today. It was a good day. This was a good start for us.”
“I was just happy to be outside and on the mound finally,” McDonagh said. “I’m just ready for the season to start. We’re trying to win the North this year, and this was the first step.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.