By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — When Troy needed to be aggressive, it was aggressive.
When the situation called for patience — which it often did — the Trojans were patient.
The only thing the Troy baseball team didn’t need to, thanks to Ethan West’s performance on the mound? Worry.
West pitched a four-hit shutout Wednesday in Troy’s season opener at Market Street Field against Wayne, striking out eight Warriors — five of them looking — and only walking one, while the Trojans benefited from 13 walks and two hit-batters by the Wayne pitching staff in a 13-0 victory.
West, a senior, never gave Wayne (0-1) a chance from the start, striking out the side in the top of the first on three called third strikes. And after a leadoff single by Wayne in the second led to a runner being on third with only one out, West buckled down and got a strikeout and a flyout to escape the jam.
Wayne then got the first two runners on in the top of the third and advanced them to second and third on a sacrifice bunt, but West got a swinging strikeout and another called third strike to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard. And in the fourth, second baseman Austin Kendall and shortstop Cole Brogan turned a double play to erase another leadoff single and keep the shutout going after four.
And after an eight-run fourth inning by the Troy offense that kept him waiting for a half hour to get back on the mound, West finished things off in the fifth to record the shutout.
“What can you say about Ethan West? He came out and threw a nice game,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “He had eight strikeouts, only walked one — he threw well. He did what we asked him to do and threw a complete-game shutout.
“Ethan stayed focused,” Welker said. “He had guys on third with less than two outs a couple times, and he worked out of it.”
It could be an important performance for West, too, given the Trojans (1-0) are still looking for a No. 2 starter to back up ace Brogan once the home-and-away Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division series begin next week.
“We’re still looking for that No. 2 guy, that Monday-Tuesday guy, and Ethan had a nice outing today,” Welker said. “We need two guys (for division series). West had a nice outing tonight, and we believe Braeden Snider and Jakob Libecap can compete for that spot, too. I feel like we’ve got to have that second guy, and West did a nice job tonight.
“Last year, we had Derek McDonagh and Cole Brogan. Two years ago, it was Hayden Kotwica and Brogan. This year will be an opportunity for somebody to step up — and what a great start for West to be able to do that.”
Troy’s offense, meanwhile, made sure that the defense never had to stress out, either.
The Trojans took the lead for good with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first. Jacob Adams reached on an error and quickly stole second, then West drew a walk and both runner moved up on a wild pitch. Adams scored on another wild pitch, then Caleb Fogarty sent an RBI single back up the middle to give Troy a 2-0 lead early. Troy then added onto that lead in the second with a bases-loaded RBI walk by Brogan with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts put an end to that threat and kept it a three-run game.
Fogarty then beat out an infield single to lead off the third, and Snider followed that by ripping an RBI triple the other way to the fence in left. Libecap then drove Snider in with an RBI groundout, and the lead was 5-0 after four.
“All spring and in our scrimmages, we’ve scored runs without seeming to do a whole lot offensively, but we do,” Welker said. “We don’t swing at stuff out of the zone, we’re very patient at the plate, we run the bases very well, we put the ball in play when we need to. All those things that we have to do to score runs, our guys do what it takes.
“We had good at-bats. There were a couple situations where we had guys in scoring position and didn’t execute, so that was one thing. We sat on too many fastballs then. But … it’s day one, the first time seeing competitive pitching, and I thought we were patient.”
And that patience certainly paid off in the bottom of the fourth.
Wayne’s pitchers issued eight walks and hit two batters in that half-inning alone, with Fogarty and Matt Bigley each driving in a run on a bases-loaded walk and Adams scoring on a wild pitch for the second time in the game. Libecap added a two-run single — the only hit in the inning — and Adams drove in a run on an RBI groundout as Troy put the game away with a lengthy, slow and methodical inning.
“We always talk about how we have to worry about us and not the other team,” Welker said. “I think we executed today. We only gave up two free passes, we had 22 quality at-bats — we hit our goals on all of those things. We feel real positive about today.”
For the day, Fogarty was 2 for 2 with two RBIs, Libecap was 1 for 3 with three RBIs, Snider tripled and had an RBI and Brogan, Adams and Bigley each had one RBI.
Troy remains at home Wednesday, hosting Chaminade Julienne — the defending Division II state champion — before going on the road Saturday to Graham. The Trojans open division play Monday at Greenville to kick off a two-game series.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.