Tigers, Hawks ready to mix it up
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – If the Troup Tigers have to go to another Game 3, they’re in good hands.
Troup was in that situation on Saturday after splitting the first two games of its playoff series with West Hall.
Ryan Bliss, who pitched a total of 12 innings during the regular season, threw the seven-inning complete game as Troup handled West Hall to advance to the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
Troup will continue its state journey when it hosts Hardaway today in a second-round matchup.
They’re scheduled to play a doubleheader at 5 p.m., with the if-game set for Friday at 5:30 p.m. if necessary.
For today’s game, Troup head coach Craig Garner will likely send Colby Williams and Jarred Helton to the mound, and Bliss would be waiting on the wings for what would be a decisive Game 3.
Troup (22-11) won the Region 5-AAAA championship to earn home-field advantage for at least the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
Hardaway (15-14) finished third in Region 1-AAAA, and it beat Burke County in three games to advance.
For Troup, pitching has been a strength all season, and that was the case in the West Hall series.
In the series opener, a first-inning run was all the Tigers needed, with Williams going the distance in a 1-0 victory.
In the second game, Helton pitched a complete game, but Troup lost 4-3 after taking a 3-0 lead.
In Game 3, Bliss limited West Hall to three hits on the way to the 6-1, series-clinching win.
Hardaway used a late offensive charge to get past Burke County in its Game 3.
The Hawks scored five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings to soar to the win and reach the second round.
The Tigers made the most of its seven hits in Game 3 against West Hall, and they also reached eight times on walks, which helped considerably.
Ken Truitt and Jarred Helton each walked twice and had a hit, and Trent Bailey had two walks as well.
Kenly Bridwell had two hits and three runs scored, and Williams and Camren Russell each had an RBI.
The Tigers have found ways to succeed offensively, even when hits are hard to come by.
“We’ve got to make do,” Bliss said. “We get ‘em on, get ‘em over, and get ‘em in.”