By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — When asked which felt better — the one-hit shutout he threw on the mound or his exclamation point of a grand slam to seal a run-rule victory — Troy’s Cole Brogan had the only correct answer.
“The win. The win feels better than anything,” he said.
Particularly after the previous night’s game.
After falling on the road at Greenville in its Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division opener on Monday, the Troy baseball team bounced back in a big way Tuesday at Market Street Field, piling up seven runs in the first three innings and then stringing together an eight-run rally all with two outs in the fourth — punctuated by Brogan’s slam — and the senior did the rest on the hill to lead the Trojans to a dominant 15-0 run-rule victory in five innings.
Brogan struck out nine, walked none and allowed only two baserunners — an infield single by Warren Hartzell in the second inning and an error in the fifth — in a masterful performance, then he went 2 for 4 at the plate with a double, a home run and a total of five RBIs on Tuesday to help Troy improve to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the GWOC American North. But that one loss is likely to sting the team for a while.
“The win was definitely the best thing today,” Brogan said. “After last night, we all had a bad taste in our mouth. After that, we needed to come out here and play like we can, and I think we did that. The win feels better than anything right now. We needed to get back on track.”
That’s because Monday, the Trojans fell victim to a two-run walkoff single by Greenville’s Hartzell in a 4-3 loss at Greenville to start the series.
Troy starter Ethan West put Troy in position to win, going 5 1-3 innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out nine, walking two and hitting two, leaving the game with a 3-2 lead. Jakob Libecap came on in relief and pitched 1 1-3 innings, striking out one, hitting a batter and allowing two hits — one of which was Hartzell’s two-run game-winner with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Offensively, West had two RBIs and Braeden Snider was 1 for 3 with an RBI as Troy plated three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead — which was where things stood until the Green Wave finally got on the board with two in the sixth and then scored two more in the seventh.
Tuesday’s 15-run blowout didn’t do much to take the edge off, either.
“It doesn’t make last night feel any better, I’ll tell you that,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “It actually probably makes us a little more upset, because we feel like that’s a game we should have had last night, as well. We expect a better offensive performance than we had last night.
“And we did. I thought we executed better today and adjusted. Guys put the ball in play, we took walks when they gave them to us. That’s the team we feel like we’re always going to be and expect to be.”
Troy jumped out in front Tuesday thanks to some timely hitting early. A leadoff double by Austin Kendall, a walk by Caleb Fogarty and a wild pitch led to a two-run single by Jacob Adams to start things off fast, then Adams scored on an RBI double by Brogan to make it 3-0 after one. In the second, Kendall led off again by reaching on an error, stealing second and taking third on a wild pitch, then Fogarty walked again and Kendall scored on a wild pitch that allowed Fogarty to move up two bases to third. Braeden Snider then capped off the inning with an RBI single to make the score 5-0 Troy. And in the third, Weston Smith doubled and Kendall walked, then Smith scored on a throwing error and Kendall was driven in on an RBI groundout by Adams that gave the Trojans a seven-run lead.
Greenville (2-3, 1-1 GWOC American North) appeared to slow Troy’s momentum in the bottom of the fourth, recording the first two outs, but then the Trojans put together a lengthy rally to put the game away. Grant Gariety doubled, Matt Bigley was hit by a pitch and Smith walked to load the bases, then Kendall and Fogarty drew back-to-back RBI walks to make it 9-0. Two runs then scored on an error off the bat of Adams to make it 11-0, and Snider walked to load the bases for Brogan — who promptly emptied them with a blast over the left-field fence.
“I’ve been struggling at the plate,” Brogan said. “I was just trying to help my team win, working on stuff and trying to get back in the groove. And the way things fell? Can’t complain about that.”
And Brogan finished things off in the top of the fifth, punching out two and not allowing a one-out error to amount to anything to record his second win of the year.
“It’s hard to say that you expect that every time out, but we expect him to do his job, and he did a nice job tonight,” Welker said. “He’s been working on his swing, too, so it was nice for him to get some positive offensive contributions, too.”
On the day, Kendall was 1 for 2 with a double and four runs scored in the leadoff spot, Fogarty had three walks and scored three runs, Adams was 1 for 4 with three RBIs, Snider was 1 for 3 with an RBI, Gariety doubled and scored a run and Smith doubled and scored two runs.
Still, as the Trojans go into Friday’s GWOC American League crossover matchup at Fairborn, the team knows that splitting with Greenville complicates things moving forward.
“We’re going to have to stay focused every night,” Welker said. “We feel like we’re one of the best teams in the division. To win that title, we always play one game at a time and have our fate in our own hands. Because you’ve got to go and try to beat Tippecanoe twice and Butler twice — does that mean we can split with those guys and still have a chance? Sure. Anything can happen. This just leaves less room for error now.
“Not to put too much pressure on us, but our goal is to always try to win the league, and to do that, we feel like we’ve got to win every game.”
But Tuesday, the Trojans seemed to figure out what it takes to be on that track.
“It feels great for us,” Brogan said. “We came together as a team tonight, didn’t have any letdowns, and through five complete innings, we played like we can — we played as a team.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.