Tigers smother Blue Devils

By Kevin Eckleberry

April 15, 2014

He embraced the opportunity.

Before Tuesday’s showdown against the Columbus Blue Devils, Troup head coach Craig Garner let senior Brannon Weathers know that he was going to be the man with the baseball in his hand.

“I was super-pumped at school thinking about it,” Weathers said. “I was ready.”

Weathers promptly went out and delivered a sensational pitching performance.

Weathers gave up a run in the first inning, but he held the Blue Devils scoreless the rest of the way and the Tigers captured a 4-1 victory.

Miles Cameron had a two-run double, and Jonathan Foster contributed a two-run home run as the Tigers improved to 6-5 in Region 5-AAAA.

The first inning was a struggle for Weathers, who gave up two hits and a walk and the one run, but he ended the inning with a strikeout to limit the damage.

In the second inning, Columbus got a runner to third with one out, but Weathers notched back-to-back strikeouts to get out of that jam.

From there, Weathers was in control.

The Blue Devils had the occasional base runner, but they were unable to break through against Weathers.

Weathers gave up just four hits, and he had six strikeouts.

“That was real clutch. Brannon Weathers threw his butt off tonight,” said Foster, who caught all seven innings. “He threw great. The whole team recognizes it.”

Garner said he hadn’t planned on having Weathers throw seven innings, but as the game went along, he kept sending him back out to the mound.

“We were hoping to get three or four out of him,” Garner said. “We just kept riding him. We just kept running him out there. He was able to change speeds, and mix his pitches up, and work in and out and up and down. He did everything you ask of him. He did a great job.”

Weathers also got a start against Alexander last week, and he lasted three innings, with Troup eventually losing 14-3.

Heading into the Columbus game, Weathers said Garner “told me he’d like for me to go at least four. I knew once I got past the fourth inning I could keep going. It was fun being out there. I just wanted to keep going.”

After spotting Columbus the 1-0 lead, Troup answered with two runs in the bottom of the first.

The Tigers did it with two outs.

Foster got the rally started with a walk, and Tyler Kemp followed with a base hit.

Miles Cameron then came through with a double to bring in Foster and Kemp, and the Tigers had a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Jacob Pate was also pitching well for Columbus, and after the shaky start, he held the Tigers scoreless until the fifth inning.

With one out, Turner singled, and Bo Halcomb reached on a fielder’s choice, bringing Foster to the plate with one on and two outs.

Foster had a 2-0 count, and he got a pitch right where he wanted it, and he hammered the ball way over the left-field fence for a home run, and the Tigers had a 4-1 lead.

Now armed with a three-run lead, Weathers set the Blue Devils down in order in the top of the sixth, and he worked around a one-out walk in the seventh inning to finish things off.

It was a critical win as far as playoff positioning goes, and it was also a nice bounce-back effort after a disheartening loss to Carrollton on Friday.

The Tigers led by a run heading into the seventh inning, but the Trojans won 6-5 on a walkoff home run.

“We spend a lot of time talking to these guys about being able to handle adversity,” Garner said. “One of our sayings is the highs are not that high, and the lows are not that low. You have to stay on an even keel and remain calm and focused and be ready to do your job.”

Troup will visit Fayette County on Thursday before returning home to face LaGrange on Friday.