Bliss has big day for Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Ryan Bliss played his role to perfection.
Bliss is the leadoff hitter for the Troup Tigers, and he had a monster night to help his team beat the visiting Central-Phenix City Red Devils 6-2 on Friday.
Bliss had two hits, including a two-run home run, and he also walked twice, stole a base and scored three runs.
Cooper Doughman added a two-run base hit for Troup, and Kenly Bridwell had an RBI hit.
While Bliss got it done at the plate, left-hander Garrett Casey continue to have his way with opposing hitters.
In his third start of the season, Casey was dominant once again with 4 1/3 hitless innings before he had to leave after reaching his pitch count.
Colton Greathouse got the final two outs of the fifth inning before Brantly Robinson threw the final two innings.
While Casey didn’t allow any hits, his pitch count was up with seven strikeouts and three walks, so head coach Craig Garner made the decision to pull him.
“Garrett just got to his pitch count,” Garner said. “He had a no-no. He hadn’t given up any hits or any runs. That’s what I told him, I hate that we have to do that, but early like this we’re thinking about the end of the season.”
The Tigers, thanks to Bliss, jumped on top 1-0 in the first inning.
Bliss led off the bottom of the inning with a double before moving to third on a passed ball.
Bliss scored the game’s first run on a failed suicide-squeeze attempt.
Bliss took off from third and was in no-man’s lead after the unsuccessful bunt attempt, but he managed to leap out of the way of the catcher’s tag attempt and reach home plate.
“At that point, I knew I was in a tough situation, so I was like, I’ve seen that on TV,” Bliss said of his acrobatics at the plate. “I thought I might as well try it out, and it worked good.”
Troup head coach Craig Garner said getting the early lead was critical.
“It’s so important to get that first run,” Garner said. “Statistics show that 75 percent of the time the team that gets the first run wins the ballgame.”
Bliss, who is also an exceptional shortstop, is aware of the value of getting the early lead.
“I know if I can get my pitcher a 1-0 lead in the first inning, his confidence goes way up,” Bliss said. “I try to do my best to get on base.”
Troup padded its lead with a run in the fourth inning, and once again Bliss was the instigator.
Bliss led off with a walk and stole second before Cade Garner walked to put two men on.
After a Colby Wiliams sacrifice bunt, Bridwell’s RBI double gave Troup a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, Bliss showed off his power-hitting ability with his second home run of the regular season.
Luke Purnell led off the inning with a double, and with two outs, Bliss’ home run put Troup on top 4-0.
After Central scored a run in the top of the fifth, Troup answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Williams reached on an error leading off, and Bridwell was hit by a pitch, and both men moved up on a Casey sacrifice bunt.
Next up was Doughman, and he drove the ball over the shortstop’s head for a two-run single, and Troup led 6-1.
Central scored one run in the top of the sixth to cap the scoring.
Troup will be back home on Monday against Northside-Columbus at 5:55 p.m.
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