Explosive region opener for Tigers
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016
LAGRANGE – A year ago, the Troup Tigers began their region schedule by losing to Woodward Academy on a walk-off home run.
They weren’t about to let that happen again.
Facing Woodward Academy in its Region 5-AAAA opener on Tuesday, Troup only needed four innings to claim a 15-0 victory.
Just like a year ago, the game was decided on a walk-off home run, with Bo Halcomb’s three-run shot in the bottom of the fourth giving Troup a 15-run lead and bringing the mercy rule into play.
Only one member of the starting lineup didn’t get a hit, and in three of the four innings the Tigers sent at least eight batters to the plate.
“You get everybody one through nine contributing in some form or fashion positively, typically it’s going to be a good night,” Troup head coach Craig Garner said.
The Tigers (6-2 overall) will play the War Eagles twice more in the next two days.
Today’s game will be at Woodward Academy, and Troup will be the host team on Thursday.
As well as things went on Tuesday, none of those runs carry over to today’s game, so Garner said his players will need to be ready to come out strong again.
“That was our post-game talk,” Garner said. “We’re not going to show up and be all giddy and full of ourselves, and show up with a lackadaisical attitude. We’re going to show up with a work-man-like attitude. It’s nothing but serious business from the time we arrive to the time we leave.”
Winston Turner was Troup’s starting pitcher in Tuesday’s game, and he threw three shutout innings.
The first two Woodward Academy players in the first inning reached base, and Turner set down the next nine men he faced.
The Tigers were ahead 9-0 after three innings, so Garner figured he’d pull Turner in case he needs him again either today or Thursday.
Heading into the game, Garner considered the possibility of limiting Turner’s time on the mound if his team had a big lead.
“It was wishful thinking,” Garner said. “We were honestly hoping to create a gap in our favor, and try to get Winston out of there pretty early, to remotely have the chance to bring him back later if we needed him.”
Jarred Helton threw a scoreless fourth inning to finish things off for Troup.
At the plate, Troup started quickly with four runs in the first inning.
With one out, Ryan Bliss walked, and Turner followed with a base hit.
With Miles Cameron at the plate, Bliss and Turner both took off, and they each advanced a base on the double steal.
That was part of an excellent base-running effort for the Tigers.
“I felt like we ran the bases really well,” Garner said. “We put a lot of pressure on them.”
With men on second and third, Cameron delivered an RBI single, and Troup led 1-0.
With two outs, Brandon Gay’s double plated two more runs, and Colby Bridwell followed with an RBI single to give Troup a 4-0 lead.
After Turner set the War Eagles down in the top of the second, the Tigers went right back to work in the bottom of the inning.
Ken Truitt led off with a walk, and after stealing second, he scored on a one-out single by Bliss.
Turner walked, and Cameron reached on an error to bring in another run to push the lead to 6-0.
More aggressive base running netted another run for the Tigers, with Turner stealing home to make it a 7-0 game, and an RBI double by Colby Williams put another run on the scoreboard.
Bridwell capped the five-run inning with a sacrifice fly, and the Tigers led 9-0.
The Tigers came up empty in the bottom of the third, but they finished the War Eagles off with six runs in the fourth inning.
Cameron got things started with a solo home run, and after Williams reached base and scored on a wild pitch, Truitt’s RBI single gave Troup a 12-0 lead.
Halcomb, who had been held hitless to that point, then stepped to the plate and crushed the ball over the outfield fence, and that was that.
Halcomb, Troup’s leadoff hitter, is having an exceptional season.
“He’s been our top offensive player,” Garner said. “He’s had the most hits, he’s up near the top in RBI. The positive-negative chart, there’s a pretty big gap between him and the next guy.”
OF NOTE: For more photos from Tuesday’s game, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports