Troup baseball team set for challenge
Published 11:04 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup Tigers will be put to the test.
Troup, which begins its Region 5-AAAA schedule next week, will be in Cartersville the next three days for the Perfect Game High School Showdown.
The tournament, which features elite teams from across the Southeast, will be contested at the Lakepoint Complex.
Troup will play four games, beginning with today’s game against Loganville at 8:30 p.m.
Troup will play again at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, and its schedule after that will depend on what happens in the second game.
The Tigers must remain in the winner’s bracket to have a chance to win the championship, but they’ll play four games regardless.
Two years ago, Troup participated in another elite tournament, the IMG National Classic in Florida.
As competitive as that tournament was, Troup head coach Garner said the field for the Perfect Game event is considerably better.
“All in all, this tournament is much stronger, and much deeper than the IMG tournament,” Garner said.
Troup opens with Loganville, and it will play either North Gwinnett or Providence (Fla.) in the second round on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
“Loganville has won back-to-back state championships,” Garner said. “North Gwinnett is ranked number one in Class AAAAAAA. Providence is the defending champion of this tournament. Parkview is ranked number two in the country, and you have Cartersville and Blessed Trinity.”
Troup heads into the tournament rolling along nicely.
After opening the season with five consecutive wins, Troup lost to Upson-Lee in a game where it had a 5-0 lead.
Troup bounced back from that loss with wins over Central-Phenix City and Northside to improve to 7-1, and it will look to stay hot this week heading into next week’s Region 5-AAAA opener against Chapel Hill.
“Obviously I’d like to see us hit a little better, but I like our group, and they’re playing hard,” Garner said. “We’re trying to feel them out, and try to see how everybody’s sliding into place, and what each individual can. It’s a process, and that’s what we’re working on.”
First up for Troup in the Perfect Game tournament is Loganville, which is coming off a state-championship season.
Loganville has another loaded roster this season that includes a pair of pitchers in Bay Witcher (Troy) and Joseph Brandon (Georgia State) who have already signed college scholarships.
Brandon threw a no-hitter in the state-championship series last season.
In the second round, Troup will play either North Gwinnett or Providence (Fla.), and that promises to be another difficult test.
North Gwinnett went 35-4 last season and reached the state semifinals.
North Gwinnett has an experienced team that includes senior pitcher Walker Cleveland, who has signed with Georgia Southern.
Providence, which comes from Jacksonville, is looking to win the tournament for a second straight season, and it has a team capable of doing that.
Providence is led by Florida State signee Alex Sanchez, who hit two home runs in last year’s tournament.
Troup brings a strong resume of its own into the tournament.Troup has won back-to-back region championships, and it will be a favorite to make it three in a row this spring.
Troup is led by shortstop and pitcher Ryan Bliss, who has signed with Auburn.
Bliss has done a remarkable job from the leadoff position, and he has also been an effective pitcher.
Troup has a pair of aces in Colby Williams and Garrett Casey, who have both been nearly unhittable this season.
OF NOTE: For more on the tournament, go to perfectgame.org