Troup takes first step toward title
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – Step one’s in the books.
The Troup National all-stars kicked off what they hope will be a winning summer by beating Taylor County 9-1 on Friday evening in the opening round of the Dixie Youth Baseball 11-12-year-old District 1 tournament at the Harris Baseball Complex.
Troup National started quickly, with Colton Esposito and Trevor Booton hitting back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning to make it a 2-0 game.
Troup National continued to pull away from there to move into the winner’s bracket of the five-team, double-elimination tournament.
Troup National will be back at the Harris Complex today for a game against Thomaston at 11 a.m.
Troup National head coach Curt Longshore was glad to see his team get off to a fast start, which helped settle the nerves of the players.
“I really liked the way we started out as the visiting team, so we could get a chance to build some momentum, especially with the way we looked in warmups,” Longshore said. “We looked nervous. And then we get two home runs off the bat, and you other hitters hit line drives to the outfield. Hitting’s contagious.”
Esposito started and pitched two innings to get the win, Steven Hill worked the next three innings, and Booton finished it with a scoreless bottom of the sixth.
“We were able to pitch multiple guys, and keep everybody under the pitch-count limit, so everybody’s still eligible,” Longshore said.
The pitchers were backed up by an offense that scored runs with the long ball, and with small ball.
In the top of the second inning, Troup National was up 3-0 when Dallas Pearson stepped to the plate.
Pearson got a bunt down, and he came all the way around to score on a throwing error.
“Dallas Pearson laid down a heck of a bunt,” Longshore said. “We teach them to hustle out of the box, and that caused a bad throw to the outfield, and we scored.”
In the first inning, it was all about the long ball.
With one out, Esposito got a pitch he could handle, and he drove it over the outfield fence for the solo shot, and Booton followed with a home run of his own to push the lead to 2-0.
With two outs, Avery Hewell reached on a base hit, and he scored on a wild pitch after moving up two bases on a Bryson Cockrell double.
Troup scored a single run in the second inning on Pearson’s bunt to push the lead to 4-0.
Troup added another run in the third inning.
Preston Pressley reached on an error leading off, and Esposito followed with an RBI double, and Troup National led 5-0.
In the fourth inning, Cockrell led off with a base hit.
After Pearson reached on an error, Cockrell scored on a wild pitch to make it a 6-0 game.
Troup National capped its scoring with three runs in the top of the fifth.
Rocky Pemberton and Steven Hill reached on errors leading off the inning, and with one out, Pressley, Esposito and Booton came through with consecutive RBI singles to extend the lead to 9-0.
Taylor County scored its lone run in the bottom of the fifth, and Booton came in and slammed the door in the sixth inning.
If Troup National wins today, it would play again on Sunday at 3 p.m., and a win there would propel the team into the championship game.
“If we do our job and win three games, we’ll get the bye into the championship, and then somebody would have to beat us twice,” Longshore said.