By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — There’s full circle, and then there’s where the Troy baseball team finds itself now.
The Trojans took on Wayne — the team that the season opened with way back on March 27 — in the second round of the Division I sectional tournament Thursday at Market Street Field, and though both teams have played a full schedule since that first meeting the end result was largely the same as fifth-seeded Troy run-ruled the No. 13 Warriors again, this time 11-1 in six innings.
And though Troy (19-6) defeated Wayne 13-0 in its season opener, the Trojans knew to expect a completely different team on Thursday — especially considering the Warriors (10-14) defeated No. 7 Xenia — a team that beat Troy during the regular season — 6-3 in a first-round game to earn the rematch against the Trojans.
“They have improved since the first game. I really believe that,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “They’re a better team, and they play better. I watched them against Xenia, and they’re scrappy. I knew they’d be better.
And now Troy will get a rematch of its own, taking on No. 4 Butler in Tuesday’s sectional final at Centerville High School. The division rival Aviators, who beat No. 14 Northmont 3-2 on Thursday to advance, swept a two-game series against Troy in the regular season.
“That was our goal, to play them again in that game,” Welker said. “We know what they have, we know they’re a good baseball team and we know we have to be at our best to compete with them. And we feel like we’re that kind of team. We didn’t play that way against them the first two times, but we feel like … we’re a team that’s 19-6. That’s a good baseball team. And we beat a lot of really good baseball teams this year.”
And even though they got off to a slow start, the Trojans beat another one Thursday.
After both teams went down in order in the first, Troy’s Braeden Snider led off the bottom of the second with a double, and Cole Brogan blasted a double over the center fielder’s head to score Snider and give Troy the early lead. Brogan then stole third and scored on a wild pitch, and the Trojans were up 2-0.
Troy added another run in the third as Jacob Adams drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on another RBI double by Brogan, this time pulled just inside the third-base line. And in the fourth, the Trojans tacked on two more runs. Matt Bigley and Weston Smith singled to kick off the inning and Caleb Fogarty bunted them both into scoring position. Austin Kendall blooped in an RBI single and Snider added a two-out RBI single to put Troy on top, 5-0.
“We did have a lot of good at-bats,” Welker said. “We don’t want to be too selective. At this point, we want to swing. I felt like we were too tight at times, but we did the things we needed to do.
“We scored in every inning except the first. If we can get one or two runs every inning, that makes us pretty good. We feel like our pitching and defense is good enough that if we can score like that, we’re sitting pretty good.”
That was plenty of support for Brogan on the mound. Coming off of a five-inning no-hitter on Senior Day Saturday, the senior only hit a couple of speedbumps in Thursday’s game, allowing one run on on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
“They hit a couple balls here and there — again, they’re scrappy at the plate,” Welker said. “Cole didn’t really have a lot of strikeouts, but you know they’re going to be scrappy — and he battled. I thought he did a great job, and he got a lot of ground ball outs. And the infield did their job, that’s for sure.”
And in the bottom of the fifth, Troy’s offense put the game away for good with a big two-out rally.
Ethan West walked and Bigley was hit by a pitch, but Wayne reliever Connor Fiegly got a flyout to center for the second out. Fogarty reached on an error to load the bases, though, and Kendall promptly cleared them by yanking a three-run triple to the fence in right. Adams then drove him in with an RBI double before another flyout kept the game alive for one more inning with Troy up only 9-0.
Wayne got its run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Riley Duchesne, but the Trojans finished things off with another rally in the bottom of the inning. After two quick outs, West and Bigley ripped back-to-back singles and Smith drew a walk to load the bases for Fogarty, who hammered a walkoff double off the left-center fence to score two runs and seal the win.
“I don’t feel like the final score is indicative of the game, especially the early parts,” Welker said. “Wayne is better than they were. I felt we played a little tight around the plate, and we only hit one ground ball in the game. I feel like you have to make that team play defense — but we had a lot of nice hits, as well.”
Offensively for Troy, Kendall was 2 for 4 with a triple and four RBIs, Brogan was 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs, Snider was 2 for 4 with a double and one RBI, Fogarty doubled and had two RBIs and Bigley was 2 for 2, was hit by pitches twice and scored three runs.
Now the Trojans will take on another familiar opponent Tuesday, this time with a trip to the district final on the line.
“We feel like we don’t have to do anything but be ourselves,” Welker said. “If we can do that, play like we can play, we’re going to be okay.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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