By David Fong
For years, the Troy vs. Tippecanoe high school baseball match-up was a fierce rivalry — but one largely played simply for than a pride.
All of that changed last year, however, when Tippecanoe officially joined the Greater Western Ohio Conference, turning a friendly rivalry — that was often an afterthought as Troy chased after GWOC North titles while Tippecanoe battled to win the Central Buckeye Conference.
This week, the two teams will meet with a huge leg-up in GWOC American League North title race on the line.
Here’s what you need to know:
When and where
The two teams will play at Tippecanoe’s Clawson Field Monday, then play at Troy’s North Market Street Field Tuesday. Both games are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. It does bear mentioning that, according to the latest forecasts, there is at least a slight chance of rain both Monday and Tuesday.
The Trojans and Red Devils are the only two teams in the North with undefeated conference records. Both are 8-0 in conference play. Troy is 9-4 overall, while Tippecanoe is 15-1 overall. The Trojans have won seven of their last games, while the Red Devils have won five games in a row since falling to Chaminade Julienne in their only loss of the season.
Neither team can clinch a GWOC North title — but the winner can position itself squarely in the driver’s seat atop the division. Should one team win both games, that team will contr0l its own destiny in terms of clinching a North title. Should the two teams split, they will have to battle through the remainder of the conference schedule and could, quite possibly, end up sharing the North.
One thing to consider is Troy does already have a pair of wins against Butler, which has won three GWOC North titles in a row and seven of the last nine North crowns, and will not play the Aviators again this season. Tippecanoe will play Butler April 30 and May 1. Butler currently is third in the GWOC North at 5-3 (8-9 overall).
Troy almost certainly will start its top two hurlers, Derek McDonagh and Cole Brogan, the only two pitchers on the team with more than nine innings pitched so far this season. McDonagh is 4-1 with a 0.81 earned run average and 33 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched this year. He also has thrown a perfect game and a one-hitter. Brogan is 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
Tippecanoe has four pitchers who have thrown 16 or more innings this season. The most likely starters for the Red Devils will be Ian Yunker and Ball State signee Zach Losey. Yunker is 4-0 with a 0.29 earned run average and 35 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. Losey is 4-1 with a 0.94 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 22.1 innings pitched.
Tippecanoe also has a third option in Kenten Egbert, who is available after missing the first half of the season under Ohio High School Athletic Association rules after transferring from Bethel during the offseason. He’s 1-0 with 15 strikeouts in eight innings pitched. He has yet to give up an earned run this season.
Brogan is hitting .459 with eight RBI, four doubles and a triple to lead the Trojans. Jacob Adams is hitting .421 with eight RBI, two doubles and a triple. Brandon Emery is hitting .333 with a team-high nine RBI and three doubles. Matt Bigley has driven in eight runs, while Jake Daniel has knocked in seven.
Josh Rieve is hitting .422 with 16 RBI, four doubles and a home run to lead the Red Devils. Mason McClurg is hitting .412 with four RBI and four doubles. Miles McClurg is hitting .408 with nine RBI and leads the team with 16 stolen bases. Losey has driven in 16 runs this season, while Clay Barhorst has 14 RBI and Cole Barhorst has 11 RBI.
Both Troy coach Ty Welker and Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill are Troy High School graduates. Welker is the winningest baseball coach in Troy history with more than 200 wins, while Cahill is the winningest coach in Tippecanoe history and one of the winningest in state history with more than 650 victories.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong