Tigers win opening-day thriller

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Daily News

It was a shaky start, but a fantastic finish for the Troup Tigers, who opened a new baseball season with a 5-4 victory over the Carrollton Trojans on Tuesday night.

In the first three innings, the Tigers didn’t have any base runners, and they surrendered four unearned runs to fall behind 4-0.

Troup rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth to get within one, and they tied it in the fifth inning.

It remained deadlocked until the bottom of the seventh when Brantly Robinson was hit by a pitch leading off, and he came around to score the go-ahead run.

“I’m extremely proud,” Troup head coach Craig Garner said. “I don’t think we ever got down in the dugout. It was constant confidence that we’re fixing to get something going, and we did.”

A four-run deficit is daunting under the best of circumstances, but the Tigers found themselves down by four against an outstanding senior pitcher in Rhett Daniel who has committed to Coastal Carolina.

The Tigers got to Daniel with four hits and three runs in the fourth inning, and they tied it an inning later with Ryan Anderson on the mound.

“You’re down 4-0, and you’re looking to put at-bats together,” said catcher Cooper Doughman. “The guy we’re facing, he’s throwing in the upper 80s and going to Coastal Carolina. He’s a pitcher and you tip your hat to him, but we’re just trying to put at-bats together, play hard on defense, and don’t let it get to your head.”

With Anderson still pitching, Troup won it in the bottom of the seventh.

Robinson, who wrapped up his wrestling season last weekend in the state finals, entered the game as a pinch-hitter leading off the inning, and his job was to find any way to get on base.

Robinson made it happen by taking a pitch off his arm, and the winning run was on base.

Next up was another wrestler, Cade Garner, and he got it done as well with a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt to move Robinson up to second.

“We pinch-hit Brantly, and he comes in there and stays in there and gets hit, sacrifices himself for the team,” Garner said. “And Cade comes in there and gets a clutch bunt down on a sinker low and away, a tough pitch to bunt. It was perfect execution. Those guys were mentally prepared, going through what they went through on the wrestling mat. It prepared them to have success in situations like that.”

Bliss was intentionally walked, putting runners on first and second.

Garner called for the double steal, and Robinson and Bliss both took off.

The throw to third went into the outfield, and Robinson trotted home with the winning run, and he was mobbed by his teammates at the plate as the Tigers celebrated the season-opening win.

Early on, it looked like it would be the Trojans enjoying the opening-day win, but after being set down in order in its first three at-bats, the Tigers came to life in the bottom of the fourth.

The rally began when Bliss blasted a ball deep to center field for a leadoff triple, and Caleb McCurry followed with a base hit to put the first run of the game on the scoreboard for the home team.

Colby Williams kept it going with an RBI double, and Carrollton’s lead was down to two.

With one out, Kenly Bridwell reached on a base hit, and Garrett Casey’s RBI groundout made it a 4-3 game.

Troup tied it in the fifth with some help from Carrollton’s defense.

With one out, Bliss reached base when a pop-up was dropped, and McCurry was hit a pitch.

On a pickoff attempt at second, the throw went into the outfield, and Bliss popped up and scored the tying run.

The Tigers went down in order in the sixth inning before winning it in their final at-bat.

Troup’s pitching was phenomenal.

Colby Williams, who had an earned run average of less than one last season, allowed four hits and no walks while striking out nine in six innings.

Carrollton scored four runs while Williams was on the mound, but all of those runs were unearned as Troup struggled defensively in the early going.

Williams finished strong, retiring the final 11 batters he faced.

Garner, who has coached Williams since the 2016 season, wasn’t worried about the junior getting discouraged by the rocky start.

“He’s the most competitive guy I’ve ever coached,” Garner said.

Ryan Bliss, with the help of an exceptional defensive play, threw a scoreless top of the seventh inning.

The Trojans’ had runners on first and third with one out when Destine Udombon hit a short flyball that was caught by Garrett Casey, who is in his first season at Troup.

Casey made a perfect one-bounce throw to home, and Doughman made the catch and applied the tag for the double play.

The Tigers won it in their half of the seventh, and Bliss was the winning pitcher.

Troup will look to make it two in a row when it visits Hardaway on Thursday.

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