Senior’s big hit helps Troup prevail

Published 12:57 am Friday, March 31, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It was fitting.

Before Thursday’s game against Chapel Hill, the seniors on the Troup High baseball team were recognized.

One of those seniors, Camren Russell, had a two-run triple in the second inning that got the scoring started, and the Tigers went on to capture a 6-1 victory in the Region 5-AAAA game.

Troup (14-8 overall) improved to 5-2 in the region, and it remains one game behind first-place LaGrange heading into today’s game at Cedartown.

It was a scoreless game when Russell came to the plate with two men on in the bottom of the second inning.

With two strikes, Russell drove the ball the opposite way to right field, and he made it all the way to third base for the two-run triple.

“I was down two strikes, so I was thinking middle away, back side, and drive the ball somewhere,” Russell said.

Those two runs were enough support for Troup’s three pitchers, including starter Ryan Bliss, who worked four scoreless innings.

Brantly Robinson pitched one inning, and Cade Garner entered the game with a runner on and no outs in the sixth, and he threw two scoreless innings to finish it.

In the top of the fifth inning with Robinson pitching, it started raining, and Garner was concerned that the game would be delayed, and possibly even called.

To make it an official game, Chapel Hill had to complete its at-bat in the fifth inning.

“This is the most stressful six-run differential ballgame I’ve been in in my life,” Garner said. “I’ve been in games before where you’re trying to get it to an official game. You’ve got weather moving in. We had a 2-2 count on a batter, and I just kept waiting. We’re going to see a lightning strike, and it’s going to push everything back, and the rain’s going to come pouring in.”

The rain quickly subsided, though, and the game finished without delay, and Troup had an important win.

While Chapel Hill hasn’t won a region game, it has played some teams tough, and it took Troup to extra innings earlier in the season before losing.

“We treated this game like it’s a region-championship game,” Bliss said. “We knew it was a big game. We couldn’t stub our toe. So we came out here and played like it was Cartersville, LaGrange or Cedartown.”

The Tigers have won three straight games.

“We’re starting to get there, and we’re coming together as a team. I’m proud of that,” Bliss said. “But we still have a lot of season left. We’ve got some big games coming up.”

Bliss has been pitching for the first time this season, and he got the start against Chapel Hill.

He was sharp.

The junior only gave up one hit, a leadoff double in the second inning, and he set Chapel Hill down in order in the other three innings.

“He did exactly what we needed him to do,” Garner said. “He kept it around the plate, and didn’t give up a bunch of free bases, and gave us an opportunity to win the game.”

After Bliss worked around the double in the top of the second, Troup took the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Trent Bailey led off with a single, and Ken Truitt reached on a bunt single with one out to bring Russell to the plate.

Russell fell behind in the count, but he hung tough and gave the Tigers the lead with his triple.

Next up was Robinson, and he got a squeeze bunt down to bring in Russell and give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

Troup pushed another run across in the third inning.

Bliss led off with a bunt single, and he scored on Cooper Doughman’s RBI single.

The Tigers added two more runs to the total in the fifth inning.

Russell was hit by a pitch leading off, and after a Robinson sacrifice bunt, Kenly Bridwell reached on a bunt single.

Russell stole home for the first run of the inning, and Jarred Helton’s RBI single gave Troup a 6-0 lead.

The Tigers went up 7-0 in the fifth inning, when Truitt was hit by a pitch before later scoring on an error.

THE NUMBERS: Jarred Helton, one of the Troup seniors who was recognized before the game, had three hits and an RBI, and Ryan Bliss had two hits with a run scored. Cooper Doughman, Trent Bailey and Ken Truitt each had a hit…Bliss started and pitched four innings, and he gave up one hit and no walks while striking out two. Brantly Robinson pitched one inning, and he gave up no hits and two walks and an unearned run. Cade Garner worked around three hits in his two innings and didn’t allow a run.

OF NOTE: For photos from Thursday’s game, check out