County showdown goes Troup’s way
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016
LAGRANGE – Miles Cameron provided the offensive fireworks, and Winston Turner got it done on the pitcher’s mound as the Troup Tigers got the best of the rival LaGrange Grangers on Tuesday.
In the only meeting of the season between the two county foes, it was Troup coming away with the 5-1 road win to improve to 3-0.
Cameron had a three-run home run to highlight a five-run fourth inning, and that was plenty of support for Turner, who went six innings and gave up just three hits and one run, which came on a solo home run by Larkin Easterwood.
Troup’s Colby Darda pitched a scoreless seventh inning to finish things off.
Turner, a senior who has been starting since he was a freshman, was in a few sticky situations during the game, but he never panicked, which wasn’t a surprise to his head coach.
“He just has that wealth of knowledge and experience of being in big games before,” Craig Garner said. “He’s been in a ton of them. He’s a four-year starter. It definitely ain’t his first rodeo in that regard.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Turner’s experience paid dividends.
With two men on and one out, Easterwood was at the plate, and Turner didn’t give him anything to hit, and he ended up walking him.
It wasn’t an intentional walk, but Turner wasn’t going to let Easterwood beat him again.
“It wasn’t intentional, but that’s what I was thinking,” Turner said. “He could have put that ballgame within one. It was just damage control. It was one out with the bases loaded, and we had the double play in order. I felt perfectly fine with that situation.”
The next batter up, Matthew Anderson, hit the ball on the nose, but it went right to second baseman Bo Halcomb, who made the catch and then flipped the ball to shortstop Ryan Bliss for the inning-ending double play.
Garner said one of Turner’s greatest strengths is his ability to shrug off adversity, and focus on the next pitch.
After Easterwood’s home run in the second inning, Turner retired the next seven batters he faced.
“He gives up a home run, and the next pitch, you can’t tell if he struck the guy out, or the kid hit a home run,” Garner said. “He’s calm, cool, collected, he has an even-keel demeanor. He knows it’s a long game. You’ve got to come back and take it pitch by pitch. You have to find your spot, locate your pitch, change speeds and trust your defense.”
LaGrange got some excellent pitching of its own.
Jake Howard got the start, and he went three scoreless and hitless innings before running into trouble in the fourth inning.
Anderson worked the final three innings for LaGrange, and he didn’t allow any runs.
“We had one bad inning,” LaGrange head coach David Smart said. “You have to stay away from crooked numbers. We tell the guys, you stay away from crooked numbers. Stats show you, whoever has the big inning will win the game.”
Smart gave a lot of credit to Turner for keeping his team’s offense in check.
“We couldn’t get a whole lot going offensively,” Smart said. “Winston threw the ball really well and did a good job of keeping us off-balance, and we didn’t do as good job of adjusting as we might. That’s what’s going to happen. It was just a good learning experience for us.”
LaGrange struck first in the game.
Easterwood was leading off the second inning, and he drove the ball over the center-field fence to give his team a 1-0 lead.
That’s the way it remained until Troup broke through in the top of the fourth.
Bliss got things started with a base hit, and Turner was hit by a pitch.
Cameron then stepped to the plate and, on a 3-1 pitch, powered the ball the opposite way over the right-field fence for the go-ahead home run.
Brandon Gay kept the rally going with a bunt single, and two batters later, Jarred Helton’s base hit put two runners on.
Next up was Colby Bridwell, and he got a bunt down for a base hit, with a run scoring on an error on the play, and another base runner was thrown out at the plate trying to score.
With two outs, Ken Truitt’s base hit drove in another run to give Troup a 5-1 lead.
The Tigers didn’t score again, although they had their chances.
In the sixth inning, Darda led off with a double, but the Tigers were unable to add to their lead.
In the seventh inning, Bo Halcomb led off with a hit and ended up on third with no outs, but he was left stranded.
LaGrange also had a couple of opportunities to put some runs on the board.
In the bottom of the sixth, Howard led off with a single, Ben Anderson was then hit by a pitch, and the Grangers were in business.
With one out and runners on first and second, Easterwood came to the plate, and Turner pitched around him, and the walk loaded the bases, setting up the inning-ending double play.
LaGrange had a chance again in the seventh.
Willis Kemp was hit by a pitch leading off, but Troup turned a double play to get within an out of ending the game.
Darda walked the next two batters before getting the third out of the inning, and that was that.
Troup and LaGrange will both be at home on Wednesday to make up games that were rained out last week.
Troup is playing East Coweta, while LaGrange will take on Newnan.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports