NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – Head coach Mark Smartt picked up his 200th career win as Troy scored in the top of the tenth and held off the UNO charge in a 4-3 win to clinch the series at Maestri Field Sunday.
In a reversal of fortunes, the Trojans (4-3) went into extras and pulled out with a series-clinching victory over New Orleans (6-2). In the top of the 10th, Matt Sanders led off with a single and scored after a Brandon Lockridge double and Joey Denison single brought him home. UNO loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, but Cory Gill picked up his first save of the season behind a two-out strikeout.
The Trojans struck early with a two-run homer off the bat of Sanders in the first inning – who picked up another RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth. UNO answered with three runs of their own in the first four innings.
Houston Mabray took the mound and for the second Sunday in a row gave Troy a quality start. This time though, he took a no decision in 6.1 innings of work – scattering eight hits but only allowing three runs, one of which was earned. Freshman Lance Johnson (1-0) entered in relief of Mabray in the seventh and continued to shine in the 2.2 innings he threw – shutting the Privateers down in order and picking up the win.
Sanders, Whitaker, Lockridge and Smartt all had multiple hits for the Trojans, who pounded out 12 in the game. John Cable led UNO, going 3-for-4 with three extra-base hits and an RBI. Reeves Martin (1-1) got the loss after giving up two hits and an earned run in two innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early Momentum: Steven Whitaker repeated his leadoff performance from yesterday, reaching on a single to start the game for Troy. In stepped Matt Sanders – who, at the time, had no homeruns and three RBIs on the season – a dented the scoreboard in left to give the Trojans an early 2-0 lead.
Big Defensive Plays: In a play that turned crucial, UNO’s Aaron Palmer singled with a runner in scoring position for what looked like another run to add to their one-run lead. Trevor Davis had other plans, however, and threw a strike from right field to Chase Smartt – who stood strong and applied the tag to the sliding Veillon.
The Trojan infield turned multiple double plays in huge situations for the second day in a row. None were bigger than the one in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras. After two HBPs, Lance Johnson saw himself in a two-on, one-out jam. Samuel Capielano hit one right back off the pitchers mound to Brandon Lockridge – who gathered it and turned a regulation-ending double play.
10th Inning Clinch: Leading off extras, Matt Sanders got the Trojans a base runner with a single through the right side of the infield. Brandon Lockridge followed him up with a double to the right-center gap, and the Trojans had two on with no outs and the cleanup batter stepping to the plate. Joey Denison put the ball in shallow left, and – despite a diving attempt by the left fielder – was able to give Troy the lead, 4-3.
The Trojans were in another two-on, no-out jam when they called on Cory Gill to pitch to UNO’s most effective hitter, Tristan Clarke. He got Clarke to fly out to Denison in left-center and Randolph to ground out. An intentional walk of John Cable and a pinch hitter followed, but Gill froze him with a breaking ball on the outside corner to win the game with the bases loaded.
• Today’s victory was Mark Smartt’s 200th win as a head coach – with 164 at West Alabama and 36 at Troy.
• With his third-inning single, Brandon Lockridge lengthened his hitting streak to seven games.
• Troy overcame a deficit in all three games of the series – four runs on Friday and one run in each of the last two.
SOUND “SMARTT” WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After today’s extra-inning thriller, the Trojans are now 17-9 following a loss under Mark Smartt.
Troy will head to Regions Field in Birmingham to face their long-time rival, UAB. First pitch of the mid-week matchup is set for 4 p.m.