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Tigers ready to defend their turf

Troup will be at home for state playoffs

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

Troup head coach Craig Garner talks to his players following a win over Whitewater last week. Troup will complete the regular season with a game against Whitewater today. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_troup1-2.jpgTroup head coach Craig Garner talks to his players following a win over Whitewater last week. Troup will complete the regular season with a game against Whitewater today. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

LAGRANGE – The Troup Tigers are hoping they won’t have to leave the friendly confines of their baseball stadium again.

The Tigers, after winning the Region 5-AAAA championship, are guaranteed to be at home for at least the first two rounds of the state playoffs.

After that, it’s the luck of the draw, or the coin flip.

If Troup reaches the state quarterfinals, it would be at home if it is seeded higher than its opponent.

If it’s two teams of the same seed, then it comes down a to a coin flip to determine which team would be at home.

If things work out for the Tigers, they could be at home all the way through the state-championship series, which begins on May 21.

Troup was supposed to play its regular-season finale on Friday against Whitewater, but that game was postponed, and it will be made up today at 1 p.m.

It will be the culmination of what has been an enormously succesful regular season for Troup, which improved to 20-5 overall and 13-1 in the region with Thursday’s 6-2 win over Whitewater.

Troup has steamrolled the opposition to capture its first region title since 1995.

The Tigers headed into the final regular-season game with a four-game cushion over Carrollton, which played Woodward Academy for second place on Friday.

Troup’s only region loss came on March 23 when it fell to Carrollton 8-5, and it has followed that up by winning nine consecutive region games.

Overall, Troup has won eight straight games since going 2-2 in the IMG National Classic that was held in Florida earlier this month.

The showdown with Whitewater has been a mismatch.

A year ago, those two teams met for the region championship, and it was Whitewater taking two of three to clinch the title.

On the final day of the regular season, Troup traveled to Whitewater and lost 4-3 in the game that determined the championship.

Flash forward a year, and Troup had the region title wrapped up before it even began the three-game series with Whitewater.

For good measure, Troup has gone ahead and steamrolled Whitewater, getting a bit of payback for last year’s loss.

In the first game this week, Payton Upchurch was the winning pitcher, and Miles Cameron hit a home run and drove in two runs as Troup stuffed Whitewater 10-2.

On Friday, Winston Turner pitched six scoreless innings to improve to 6-2, and Ken Truitt hit a home run.

After today’s game, Troup will begin pursuit of the first baseball state championship in school history.

The Tigers have come close in recent years.

They reached the state semifinals in 2012 and 2013 where they lost to the eventual state champion, and both of those series went the full three games.

Under head coach Craig Garner, the Tigers have also reached the elite eight in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and they made it to the second round in 2005, 2010 and 2015.

The closest a Troup team came to winning it all was in the 1984 and 1985 seasons when the Tigers finished second in the state.

The baseball teams from Callaway and LaGrange will have to get it done on the road if they want to keep their seasons going.

Callaway, which hasn’t played since beating Smiths Station 10-0 on Monday, finished third in Region 5-AAA, and it will be on the road against the Region 8-AAA runnerup on Friday.

LaGrange, the third-place team from Region 1-AAAAA, will visit Region 4-AAAAA’s second-place team on Friday.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports