Is history about to repeat itself?
A year ago, the Troup Tigers found themselves saddled with a 1-3 Region 5-AAAA record early in the season, but they rallied to not only make the playoffs, but advance to the state semifinals for the second straight year.
Flash forward a year ago, and once again the Tigers were 1-3 in the region after losing a couple of close ballgames.
After two big wins, though, including Thursday’s 10-3 victory over the rival LaGrange Grangers, the Tigers have evened their region record at 3-3, and they seem to have things going in the right direction.
“We did start out 1-3 last year. It was the same way,” said Tyler Bunn, whose two-run home run capped a seven-run, seventh-inning rally against the Grangers. “Momentum is good right now.”
The Tigers had plenty of momentum in the top of the seventh inning.
The Tigers were up 3-0 early in the game, but the Grangers rallied to tie it heading into the final inning.
The Tigers had two outs in the seventh when they exploded.
Winston Turner, Tyler Kemp and C.J. Tatum each had RBI hits, and Bunn then drove the ball over the left-field fence for an opposite-field home run.
Bo Halcomb finished off his complete game with a perfect bottom of the seventh, and the Tigers had the win.
“You push seven across with two outs, that’s big. That’s huge,” Troup coach Craig Garner said. “We just have to do a better job of getting those runs during the middle of the game when you have an opportunity.”
If the Tigers beat Shaw today, they’ll finish the first half of their region schedule with a 4-3 record, and they’ll be right in the thick of the playoff picture.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Halcomb said. “It’s the same as last year. It was good to get a win.”
The Tigers scored twice in the first inning to grab the early lead.
Winston led off with a single, and he later scored on a Kemp double.
Kemp came around to score when a flyball off the bat of Tatum was misplayed.
The Tigers manufactured a run in the second inning.
Miles Cameron led off with a single, and he stole second and third before scoring on a Brannon Weathers groundout.
That was it for the Tigers until the seventh inning.
The Grangers got run-scoring doubles from Logan Moody and Ben Anderson in the third inning to get within a run, and they tied it on an RBI groundout from Moody in the fifth inning.
Troup’s seventh inning began innocently enough with a groundout, and Tanius Harris was then hit by a pitch.
After a Weathers sacrifice bunt, Turner gave Troup the lead with a double.
“It was huge,” Garner said of Turner’s hit. “I felt like the wind kind of left their sails a little bit.”
Halcomb was then hit by a pitch, and Jonathan Foster walked to load the bases.
Kemp’s base hit pushed the lead to 5-3, and the bases were still full when Tatum came to the plate.
Tatum came through a double to clear the bases, and Troup’s lead was 8-3.
After a pitching change, Bunn was the ninth batter of the inning, and he wasn’t thinking home run.
“I was trying to get the run in,” Bunn said. “I knew we had a runner on second. We needed it. We just wanted to keep it going. I just swung, and followed through. I would have been happy with a line drive.”
It was a line drive, but Bunn hit it hard enough to sail over the fence for the two-run blast.
“We saw they were down, and we had the momentum and we just had to keep it,” Bunn said.