By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — After a disappointing loss on Tuesday that put them a game behind in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division standings, the Troy Trojans knew they had to respond.
And once they did, Tippecanoe simply couldn’t find an answer.
The first eight Trojans to the plate in the second inning scored before an out was even recorded to give the Troy baseball team an insurmountable lead, Jacob Adams hammered a three-run double in the next inning to make it an 11-run game and Cole Brogan and the Troy defense put it away on the other end in a three-hit shutout as the Trojans routed the Red Devils 11-0 in five innings Wednesday on the road to earn a split in the critical division series.
With the win, Troy improved to 10-5 overall and 9-1 in the GWOC American North, climbing back into a first-place tie with the Red Devils. Tippecanoe fell to 9-1 in division play and 16-2 overall, snapping a six-game winning streak by the Devils and giving Troy a win after back-to-back losses to the Devils and Fairfield.
“This was huge, man,” said Adams, who was 2 for 3 with two doubles and four RBIs in to lead the way offensively for the Trojans. “Even after Fairfield, our coaches challenged us and wanted to see what we were made out of. And they challenged us yesterday after that tough 5-1 loss — and we knew we had to come back and show what we were about.”
After that game on Tuesday where runs came at a premium and with Troy’s Cole Brogan and Tippecanoe’s Ian Yunker, two talented pitchers, starting, everything seemed set up for another battle. And while both pitchers threw solid first innings, a double play turned from Troy second baseman Tomo Takayama to shortstop Austin Kendall seemed to energize the Trojans — and it showed in the second inning.
“Tipp’s a really good team, but Cole really got us excited throwing that first inning,” Adams said. “We knew he was going to come out and throw strikes behind us, and we knew our defense was going to play, so we just decided to produce hitting.”
Adams started things off in the top of the second with a double, Brogan singled to put runners on the corners and Kendall beat out an RBI infield single to put Troy on top. Braeden Snider drew a walk to load the bases, and Matt McGillivary dropped down a bunt that stayed fair along the third-base line for an RBI single to make it 2-0.
But things were just getting started.
Tyler Brandenburg was hit by a pitch to score another run, then Brandon Emery hit a blooper that got past a diving left fielder for a two-run double to make it 5-0. Jake Daniel followed that up with a sharp two-run single, taking second on the throw home, and he advanced to third on an error as the first nine Troy batters up in the inning reached base safely. Adams then scored Daniel with an RBI groundout for the first out of the inning, and after another error reliever Troy Powers escaped the inning at last with Troy leading 8-0.
“There’s nothing you can say. I can’t explain it,” Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill said. “That happened the last time we lost, too — things just snowballed. And that’s what I’m most disappointed in, the fact that, okay, they get a couple hits and a run … but when it just keeps snowballing, we’re throwing to the wrong base, make a couple errors, you don’t help out your pitchers. You can come back when you’re down 5-0, but down eight and 11? It’s just not going to happen.”
The Trojans kept building that momentum in the third, too. Brandenburg drew a walk and Emery and Daniel both singled to load the bases with one out, and with two outs Adams blasted a ball that hit the fence in center on one hop, bringing all three runners home to make it an 11-0 Troy lead.
Tippecanoe began to fight back in the third, loading the bases with two outs on singles by Kenten Egbert and Miles McClurg and a hit-by-pitch by Cole Barhorst, but Brogan got a strikeout to get out of that jam. And after hitting another batter in the fourth, Kendall snared a hard line drive at short and fired to first to double off the runner, and the Devils didn’t threaten again.
“We’re just struggling hitting the ball one through nine in the order,” Cahill said. “We only scored three against Fairborn, three against Kenton Ridge, five last night, but an error made that happen, and nothing tonight. We’ve just got to put better at-bats together.”
Brogan gave up three hits, hit three batters and struck out five in the five-inning shutout.
“We know when he’s on the mound, he’s going to compete every time,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “He threw a lot of strikes, they put the ball in play and we made good defensive plays behind him. Also, this is Kendall’s second start at shortstop, Tomo got his first start of the year at second base, we’ve got a banged-up third baseman that can’t play so Emery, our normal second baseman, had to play some third. We were out of position, out of place, but with this team, it’s a ‘next man up’ mentality.”
Offensively in addition to Adams for Troy, Emery was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, Daniel was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and Keiran Williams doubled as the Trojans piled up 11 hits off of three Tippecanoe pitchers.
Yunker took the loss, striking out one, walking two, hitting a batter and giving up five hits and seven runs in one-plus innings. Troy Powers pitched 1 1-3 innings, walking one and giving up three hits and three runs and Mason McClurg finished off the game, giving up two hits, a walk and a hit batter and striking out two in 2 2-3 innings.
The win puts Troy in a good position to finish out the season, playing road GWOC American League crossover games at Stebbins Thursday and West Carrollton Friday to finish out the week, with a series against division rival Piqua looming early next week, as well as one other crossover game against Trotwood. Tippecanoe, meanwhile, travels to Xenia Thursday and Trotwood Friday and will take on reigning division champion Butler in a series to begin next week.
Welker wasn’t about to discuss the help they need to win the title outright, though.
“We’re not worried about that at all,” he said. “That seems easy, but we’ve got our own things to take care of. We aren’t taking any of our crossover games lightly, and Piqua can come out and play baseball. That’s what we’re worried about, and whatever else happens happens. People think we’ll be scoreboard watching, but we have to focus on our crossover games and on Piqua.”
“The good thing is we get to come back tomorrow, just like Ty said last night,” Cahill said. “We can’t worry about today. They’re definitely in control now, and we have to win out. We can’t have a hangover. We’ve got to go out and play.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.