Troup eases to state championship
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
SWAINSBORO – They saved their best for last.
Facing Wrens in the Dixie Youth Baseball 11-12-year-old state-championship game on a blistering Saturday afternoon in Swainsboro, the Troup County all-stars started quickly and never looked back on the way to an 11-0 victory.
Next up for Troup will be the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series, which begins on Aug. 2. in Ruston, La.
Troup started out slowly in the three-team state tournament, losing to Wrens and Swainsboro on July 6.
Fortunately for Troup, those games were simply to determine seeding for the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
Troup returned to Swainsboro on Friday, and it beat Wrens 7-2 and lost to Swainsboro 3-1.
On Saturday morning, Wrens beat Swainsboro, setting up a winner-take-all game against Troup later in the day.
The challenge figured to be a daunting one for Troup since it was facing a pitcher it struggled against the previous weekend.
“They had a pitcher that did really well against us the first time, and he actually shut us out 4-0,” said Ron Wilson, Troup’s head coach. “They saved him just for us, because he pitched so well against us before.”
Fortunately for Troup, the second time around went a lot better than the first.
The Wrens pitcher gave up four runs and six hits and only retired one batter before he was pulled.
“We learned a lot the first weekend that we came,” Wilson said. “We tried to make adjustments last week. When we got another opportunity against that young man, we were able to capitalize, and we knocked him out real early and got to some of the other guys that they have.”
After the four-run first inning, Troup continued to pour it on in the second inning, pushing five more runs across to go up 9-0.
Troup capped the scoring with two runs in the third inning, and the game ended because of the mercy rule after Wrens didn’t score in the top of the fourth.
While Troup had a comfortable lead from the get-go, Wilson made sure to let the players know they couldn’t let up.
“What we kept telling the boys every half inning was, that’s not enough,” Wilson said. “They just responded by tacking more runs on the board, until we were able to have the run rule come into effect.”
The way Bryce Hubbard was pitching for Troup, those 11 runs were plenty. Hubbard threw the four-inning complete game, and he held Wrens to five hits while striking out six.
Hubbard also excelled at the plate with three hits and an RBI.
Rob Skinner and Jeremiah Staples each had two hits and two RBIs, Bryce Hubbard had three hits and an RBI, and Trevor Handsford had two hits and three runs scored.
Leadoff hitter Cooper Stephens had a hit and a walk and two runs scored.
On Saturday, Troup beat Wrens 7-2, with Bryce Hubbard providing some offensive heroics with a two-run home run.
Cooper Stephens had three hits and an RBI, Kaden Carlisle had two hits and an RBI, Landon Alsobrook had a hit and an RBI, and Trevor Handsford and Rob Skinner each had two hits.
Skinner started and threw two innings, and Logan Cammon pitched four shutout innings to finish it.
In Saturday’s second game, Swainsboro scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning, and it made that lead stand up on the way to the 3-1 win.
Bryce Hubbard had both of Troup’s hits, and Kaden Carlisle drove in a run.
Hubbard started and pitched 2 2/3 shutout innings, and after Kaden Carlisle got two outs, Cooper Stephens worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings to finish it.
The previous weekend, although Troup lost twice, Wilson felt it was a productive day.
“Last weekend as a coaching staff, we had talked about what are we going to take away from this weekend,” Wilson said. “Do we go and try to win this thing, or do we try to move these guys around and see what pieces we have, and what’s going to work, and what’s not going to work. And that’s what we did. We took notes on the things we looked good at, and we took notes on the things that we were kind of below par on. We made those adjustments throughout the week in practice.”
OF NOTE: Troup was also awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy at the conclusion of the tournament
TEAM MEMBERS: Landon Alsobrook, Bryce Hubbard, Kaden Carlisle, Jeremiah Staples, Lucas Harpole, JR Reeves, Luke Taylor, Rob Skinner, Logan Cammon, Sammari Pope, Cooper Stephens and Trevord Handsford. Ron Wilson is the head coach, and the assistant coaches are Dusty Hubbard, Auston Wilson and Shane Cammon.