Tigers finish sweep of War Eagles
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 18, 2016
LAGRANGE – He thought he’d won it with a walk-off home run.
Troup’s Winston Turner was leading off the bottom of the eighth inning of a tie game with Woodward Academy, and he put a charge in the ball and rocketed it toward center field.
“I really thought I’d walked it off right there,” Turner said.
The ball didn’t quite clear the fence, but a hustling Winston made it to second with a leadoff double, and he came around to score the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
Troup earned a 4-3 victory in the third game and final game of the week between the two Region 5-AAAA rivals.
Troup (8-2), which has won five consecutive games overall, improved to 3-0 in the region after a third win over Woodward Academy in as many days.
In the first two games against Woodward Academy, Troup scored a combined 29 runs, but it found offense a little harder to come by on Thursday.
Still, the Tigers found a way to win, and that’s all the matters.
“It’s good to get a few of these under our belt,” Turner said. “The farther we go, the better the teams, the better the pitching, and the tighter the games are going to be. It did us a lot of good.”
Troup got superb pitching from Bo Halcomb and Turner, who threw a combined five shutout innings.
Halcomb, who entered the game in relief of starter Colby Williams, went four innings in his second pitching appearance of the season, and Turner threw a perfect top of the eighth inning to get the win.
Troup head coach Craig Garner has been bringing Halcomb along slowly this season.
Halcomb, who had offseason arm surgery, looked strong.
“The first time out, he was up to about 45 pitches,” Garner said. “We feel he’s up to about 60, 65 pitches right now.”
Halcomb’s first pitching appearance of the season came in a blowout win over Callaway.
The pressure was obviously a lot greater on Thursday, and the veteran Halcomb was up to the challenge.
“I didn’t want to give up anything and give my team the best chance to win,” Halcomb said.
Woodward’s leadoff hitter reached base against Halcomb in the fourth and sixth innings, but neither man scored.
In the sixth inning, Woodward Academy got a leadoff double, but after first baseman Payton Upchurch made a nice catch on a bunt that was popped up, Halcomb punched out the next two batters, both on called third strikes.
“He did a great job of holding them at bay,” Garner said.
Turner, who was the starting and winning pitcher in Tuesday’s 15-0 win over Woodward, set the War Eagles down in order in the top of the eighth, and he finished the inning with two straight strikeouts.
Offensively, Troup got an RBI single from Colby Bridwell, a sacrifice fly by Ryan Bliss, and Turner knocked in a run with a bunt.
Troup had an exceptional defensive game.
Williams, a freshman, made a terrific play for the first out of the eighth inning, and Troup pulled off a momentum-changing pickoff play in the top of the third.
Woodward Academy had runners on first and third with just one out, and it was threatening to add to its 3-1 lead.
Williams faked to first, and he threw to third for the pickoff, and the Tigers got out of the inning trailing by just two runs.
“We hadn’t used that play in probably seven or eight years,” Garner said. “But, that’s why you work on it, because you never know when you’re going to need it, when you’re going to use it. If you haven’t worked on it, you’re not prepared for it.”
Troup pushed its first run across in the bottom of the second.
Miles Cameron walked, and he later scored on a Bridwell base hit.
As the Tigers came to the plate in the bottom of the third, they were trailing by two runs.
Ken Truitt, who had three hits in Wednesday’s win over Woodward Academy, led off with a double, and Halcomb followed with a hit to put two men on.
Bliss did his job, putting the ball in play for a flyout to right field to bring Truitt home, and an alert Halcomb made it to third when the throw went to the plate.
Next up was Turner, and he got a bunt down, and Halcomb raced home with the run to make it 3-3, and that’s the way it remained until the eighth inning.
As Turner stepped to the plate to begin the bottom of the eighth, he said he was ready for anything Woodward’s pitcher had to offer.
“I was looking for a bunch of different pitches,” Turner said. “I was ready for them all.”
He punished the ball, and it bounced to the center-field fence for a standup double.
Turner then moved to third on a wild pitch, and with one out and Williams at the plate, he took off for home when the ball got away from the catcher.
Turner scored easily, and Troup had the series sweep.
“The pitcher had shown that he could block a few up,” Turner said. “But I really did have a feeling that it was going to be a passed ball. I had a good feeling.”
Troup will continue its region schedule next week with three games against Carrollton.
Troup will be the host team on Wednesday, and it will visit Carrollton on Tuesday and Thursday.
OF NOTE: For more photos from Thursday’s game, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports