Troup flying high into playoffs
Published 12:02 am Thursday, April 26, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s time to turn the page.
The Troup Tigers (23-7) put together one of the best regular seasons in the history of the program, and they closed in style with blowout wins over East Coweta and Newnan on Friday.
The slate will be wiped clean today, though, as Troup hosts Ridgeland in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Weather-permitting, the teams will play a doubleheader today beginning at 6 p.m.
If needed, a third game will be played on Friday.
“It’s been a good season, and I feel like we’ve still got better baseball to play,” Troup head coach Craig Garner said. “I feel like we still haven’t reached a peak level yet. That’s kind of what you want.”
The Tigers roll into the playoffs with plenty of momentum.
After a non-region loss to Auburn, Troup finished the regular season on a five-game winning streak, and that included an impressive 5-1 road win over Cartersville.
Troup and Cartersville finished tied for the top spot in Region 5-AAAA with matching 11-1 records.
Cartersville was awarded the top seed based on the tie-breaker, which was run differential in the two head-to-head matchups.
Cartersville won the first meeting 5-0, and Troup won the rematch 5-1.
It’s the third consecutive season Troup has either won a region championship outright, or shared the title.
Now, Troup is geared up for what it hopes will be an extended playoff stay.
First up is a Ridgeland team that earned its state berth by finishing third in Region 6-AAAA.
“I feel like we’ve got a pretty good idea about them, and their team,” Garner said. “You just try to gather as much information as you can, and feel like you’ve played them before. You try to have a sense of what they’re all about before you play them.”
Troup is a team that seemingly has all the ingredients necessary to thrive this time of year.
The Tigers have two legitimate aces at the top of the rotation in Colby Williams and Garrett Casey.
Williams is one of the state’s top pitchers, and he threw a complete-game three hitter and struck out 10 in the 5-1 win over Cartersville.
Brantly Robinson has also done a nice job as a starting pitcher, and Ryan Bliss could be called upon as well.
A year ago, Bliss pitched a complete game in a 6-1 win over West Hall in the deciding game three of a playoff series.
Last season, the Tigers struggled mightily scoring runs down the stretch.
That hasn’t been the case this year.
Troup has reached double digits in runs in four of its previous five games, and it exploded for a combined 28 runs against East Coweta and Newnan on Friday.
Ryan Bliss, the man at the top of the lineup, has had a monster senior season.
Bliss is hitting nearly .450, and he has 12 doubles, eight home runs, 29 RBIs, and 46 runs scored, all while doing an exceptional job defensively at shortstop.
Caleb McCurry has done a terrific job at the number two spot in the order, and Colby Williams holds down the number three spot.
Williams had three hits and six RBIs against East Coweta.
Cooper Doughman, Garrett Casey, Kenly Bridwell, Cade Garner, Ethan Morton, Brantly Robinson and Luke Purnell help give Troup a potent lineup.
Doughman is second on the team in home runs to Bliss, and he’s also an anchor at the catcher position