Troy comes from behind to defeat Greenville, 6-5
The Greenville All-Stars pushed Troy to the edge of elimination on Thursday night in the Dixie Youth District Tournament.
But down by four runs in the bottom of the fifth, the Troy Nationals finally pushed back.
Troy scored five runs in the inning, took a 6-5 lead, and held their breath as David Williams pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth to assure the victory.
With one out, Williams hit one Greenville batter and walked two, but struck out both Ethan Mauch and Danny Spann, ending the game and advancing Troy to face the winner of Thursday night's Ashford-Dothan National game.
Troy National head coach Mike Weston said his team waited about as late as they possibly could to mount a comeback.
"The bats just finally came alive for us," said Weston.
He said after the game that his team was a solid hitting squad from the top of the order to the bottom. Adam Senn, batting eighth in the lineup, showed that on Thursday, taking two strikes and then delivering a two-run homer in the fifth that jump-started the Nationals' offense and sent Greenville looking for a pitcher. Zach Smith had started the inning for Greenville, pitching in relief of Blake Mullins. Smith recorded one out off the bat of Sam Jones and then surrendered a single to Troy's Jeremy McGuire. Senn then came through with the clutch hit and cut Greenville's lead to 3-2.
Smith hit Zeb Swindall with a pitch, forcing Greenville coach Joe Watts to move Hunter Paul onto the mound.
Paul walked Dario Rouse, who was called out at second on an infield hit by Jake Smith. The Greenville pitcher then issued his second walk of the inning and hit Wes Hayes with a pitch driving Swindall home.
With the bases loaded for the second time in the fifth, William Teal made them pay.
Weston will be the first to tell you that, since sub-district play in Eufaula, his team has basically had to earn every thing they've gotten: runs, outs, wins, whatever. A game in Eufaula went ten innings. A few of the players' parents helped keep Troy's momentum going in their sub-district title win over Newton last Friday night, chipping in to remove excess rain water after thundershowers caused a one hour game delay in the fourth inning. If the game had gone past midnight, it wouldn't have been for the first time this tournament season.
So, when Teal's hit sailed into center, and what looked like a sure third out for Greenville was dropped in the outfield, Weston saw it as a bill that had finally been paid.
"We haven't had one all year long," he said about the big break. "It was long overdue."
Smith and Trent Boutwell took advantage, crossing home plate and giving Troy the lead for the first time in the game.
And, although the final inning wasn't his best, Williams held the lead in the sixth. Ryan Williamson, who was Troy's starter and allowed the first three Greenville batters to reach before being relieved by Rouse, made up for his earlier game struggles by sliding under a Josh Longmire hit in the outfield, recording Troy's first out of the final inning.
Williams came in for Rouse in the second inning to strike out Longmire with two runners on for Greenville. He pitched a four and one-third inning shutout, striking out nine batters and allowing no hits.
Weston admitted he had to go with Williams earlier than he would have liked, but after Greenville jumped out on top 5-0 in the first, he had no choice.
"We had to bring him in a little quicker then we wanted to," he said. "The other pitchers did a good job, but they (Greenville) got on us. We wanted to save him as long as we could."
The final four innings used up Williams' total pitching allotment for Dixie Youth tournament play.
Longmire, Mullins and Smith each hit singles in the first inning for Greenville. Adam Vickery drove in two runs with a double before Williams, playing first, snagged a line drive and stepped on the bag for the unassisted double play.
Teal stretched a basehit into a double in the first inning and soon scored on a wild pitch. Troy also had hits in the inning by Williams and Casey Weston.
Rouse hit a single for Troy in the second, but Troy was shut down by Mullins, Greenville's middle reliever, in the next two innings with Williamson the lone National to reach base when he was hit by a pitch in the fourth.