Troup finishes sweep of Columbus
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’re enjoying life at the top.
The high-flying Troup Tigers, thanks to a regular-season sweep of the rival Columbus Blue Devils, are sitting atop the Region 2-AAAA standings.
With Monday’s 5-2 victory over visiting Columbus on a picture-perfect afternoon, Troup improved to 15-2 overall, and 4-0 in region play.
Troup has six region games remaining, including two with LaGrange in April that will likely determine the region champion.
After winning at Columbus 8-2 last week, Troup returned home on Monday looking to keep the good times rolling.
The Tigers scored five runs in the first two innings to go up 5-0, and they made that lead stand up thanks to the exceptional pitching of Brett Haynes and Devon Murphy.
While the win was important as far as the region standings are concerned, it also provided an emotional lift for Troup to get a season sweep against a Columbus program that has been among the best in the state for decades.
“To beat a program as good as they are, we’re pretty ecstatic,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup’s first-year head coach. “Now, everything is in our hands. We’re in a good spot.
The Tigers jumped on top with three runs in the bottom of the first inning on RBI hits by Tre Mosley and Ethan Morton, and they added two more runs in the second inning to pad their lead.
On the mound, Haynes pitched the first three innings and gave up five hits and one earned run.
Murphy went the rest of the way, and he worked around three hits to throw four scoreless innings.
Columbus got a pair of two-out hits in the seventh inning to make things interesting, but a fly-out to center fielder Hunter Kitchens ended the suspense.
“It’s huge,” Murphy said of the season sweep of Columbus. “I never would have thought we’d be here, but we worked so hard for it in the offseason.”
Troup’s pitchers were backed up by a defense that made some big-time plays.
One of those plays saved a run and ended a Columbus rally in the third inning.
With two runs already in, Will Nobles lined the ball into center field for a base hit, and Kitchens cleanly fielded the ball and threw a strike to home plate, and catcher Colton Webb applied the tag on Peyton Black for the third out.
Kitchens also made a nice running catch to end the first inning with a runner on second.
“It’s so relieving having a great defensive player like him out there,” Murphy said of Kitchens.
Another potential Columbus rally was thwarted in the second inning when Webb picked a runner off first base.
Offensively, the Tigers did all of their damage in the first two innings.
Haynes got things started in the bottom of the first on a base hit on the first pitch he saw, and with one out, Reed Morris and Josh McDonald were hit by pitches to load the bases.
Next up was Mosley, and he drove a 3-1 pitch off of the top of the right-field fence to drive in two runs and give Troup a 2-0 lead.
“I thought it was out of here,” Glisson said. “(Mosley is) getting better and better.”
Morton followed with an RBI single, and Troup led 3-0.
The Tigers padded their lead with two runs in the bottom of the second, and they took advantage of some shaky defense by the Blue Devils.
After Webb made it to first on an error when his hard-hit grounder was misplayed, Daniel Martin and Mason Atkinson reached on back-to-back errors when the Blue Devils couldn’t handle their bunt attempts.
With the bases loaded, yet another error, this one on a groundball by Haynes, plated a run to push the Troup lead to 4-0.
Murphy grounded into a double play, but a run still scored, giving Troup a 5-0 lead.
Columbus made a dent in its deficit on RBI singles by Sean Desrosier and Devan Fico in the top of the third, but the inning ended when Kitchens threw a runner out at the plate.
Murphy came into the game in the fourth inning, and he was lights-out the rest of the way.
“I went right after them with a fastball, and challenged them to see what they could do with it,” Murphy said. “Luckily they hit it right to our guys, and I know they’ve got my back.”
Troup returns to action on Friday with a home doubleheader against Kendrick.
“I’m really proud of the guys, and we have to keep getting better, and see what happens,” Glis