Perfect weekend for Troup American
By Kevin Eckleberry
MANCHESTER – It was a perfect weekend.
The Troup American all-stars played three games in the Dixie Youth Baseball 9-10-year-old district tournament in Manchester over the weekend, and they won them all.
After beating Schley 10-7 on Friday in its tournament opener, Troup American moved to 2-0 with Saturday’s 16-6 victory over Taylor County, with Rob Skinner banging out three home runs.
On Sunday, Troup American made it three in a row with a 15-7 win over Thomaston.
Troup American will look to move a step closer to a district title when it plays Troup National today at 7 p.m. in Manchester.
Troup National is 1-1 in the tournament.
After Friday’s nail-biter, Troup American enjoyed a suspense-free victory over Taylor County on Saturday.
Skinner was the star of the game with his three home runs, including a grand slam in the third inning.
Skinner also had a solo home run in the first inning, and a two-run shot in the second inning.
“He was patient,” Troup American head coach Rusty Taylor said. “He still waited on his pitches. He did really good.”
Taylor said he had each of his hitters take a strike before swinging, but he made an exception for Skinner in the third inning when he stepped to the plate with the bags full.
“He’s the only one who didn’t get the take sign,” Taylor said. “I took it off for him, especially when we loaded it up.”
On the pitcher’s mound, Cooper Stephens started and pitched two innings, and Landon Alsobrook went the final two innings in a game shortened to four innings because of the run rule.
Offensively, Taylor said the players did a great job of executing the game plan.
Taylor said the idea was to “be aggressive on the base paths, and we didn’t want to swing at bad pitches.”
“I made everybody take at least one strike, and that forced them to be patient,” Taylor added. “We got some walks out of it, some base runners, and that made a big difference, not swinging on the bad pitches.”
Taylor County scored three runs in the top of the first inning to take the lead, but Troup American tied it with three runs of its own in the bottom of the inning.
Skinner got the rally started with a solo home run, and Brandon Bennett tied it with a two-run single.
Troup busted it open with eight runs in the bottom of the second.
Luke Vael, Kaden Carlisle and Hunter Garrett each walked to load the bases, and Jackson Hester then walked to drive in a run.
After Troup scored two more runs on a wild pitch and an error, Alsobrook came through with an RBI single to push the lead to 8-3.
That brought Skinner to the plate for the second time, and the result was the same, with his two-run home run giving Troup American a 10-3 lead.
Bennett capped the eight-run rally with an RBI single, and Troup led 11-3.
Taylor scored two runs in the top of the third, and Troup responded with four runs to go ahead 15-5.
Carlisle reached on an error, Garrett walked, and Alsobrook was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Skinner.
On the second pitch he faced, he drove the ball over the center-field fence for the grand slam, giving him seven RBIs for the game.
Cooper Stephens and Noah Whaley followed with base hits, but Troup American was unable to score any more runs in the inning.
Taylor County scored a single run in the top of the fourth, and Troup ended it with a run in the bottom of the fourth.
Vael’s RBI single plated the game’s final run and brought the run rule into play.
On Sunday, Troup built an 11-0 lead, but Thomaston scored seven unanswered runs to get within four through five innings.
Troup scored key four key insurance runs in the top of the sixth, and Alsobrook threw a scoreless bottom of the sixth to finish off the 15-7 victory.
Troup American started quickly with six runs in the top of the first.
With two men on, a hard-hit groundball off the bat of Stephens was misplayed, and two runs scored.
After Luke Taylor and Bennett walked, Vael’s grounder deflected off the second baseman’s glove for a two-run single, and Troup American led 4-0.
With the bases loaded, Garrett and Hester reached on back-to-back walks, and Troup American was up 6-0.
Troup plated five more runs in the top of the second to go up 11-0.
Alsobrook and Skinner got things started with singles, and Taylor walked to load the bases.
After an RBI single by Tolan Bailey, Vael and Carlisle walked with the bases loaded to extend the lead to 10-0.
Two batters later, Garrett’s bases-loaded walk brought in the inning’s fifth and final run, and Troup American had an 11-run lead.
Thomaston fought its way back into the game, and Troup was clinging to a four-run lead when it came to the plate in the top of the sixth.
Stephens had the big hit in the inning.
After the Thomaston coach opted to walk Skinner to load the bases, Stephens drove the ball off the left-field fence to give Troup two critical runs.
Taylor added a bases-loaded single later in the inning as Troup built an eight-run cushion.
That was part of a big game for Taylor, who had two hits and two walks.
Alsobrook, who entered the game in relief in the bottom of the fifth and got an out to snuff out a Thomaston rally, finished it with his scoreless inning, and Troup had the win.
On the mound, Skinner started for Troup National and he threw two scoreless innings.
Vael went to the mound for the third inning, and he remained in the game until the fifth inning when Bennett and Alsobrook both pitched.
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