MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Troy Trojans forced a third, and deciding, game with Arkansas State for the right to play for a Sun Belt title with a 12-5 victory over the Red Wolves on Saturday morning.
The teams will meet again later today, following a game between Florida Atlantic and FIU which will determine one team in the championship game, which is now set for 10 a.m. on Sunday.
The Trojans (35-24) blasted five home runs on Saturday morning, including three run blasts from Adam Bryant, Ryan Ditthardt and Miles Hoyle, and got seven strong innings on the mound from senior Robby Loew to top ASU (30-27).
“The story of the game was Robby Loew,” Troy coach Bobby Pierce said. “He came in and managed the damage and shut them down the rest of the way. We got some big hits behind Robbie and were able to capitalize on that.”
Loew (2-2) came into the game in the third inning after ASU had already scored three runs off starter Thomas Austin. The Red Wolves had the bases loaded with no one out, but Loew got out of the jam with a fly ball, which plated a fourth run, and a double-play grounder.
ASU added a run on consecutive hits from Tyler Smith and Michael Faulker, plus a wild pitch from Loew, in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead, but never threatened again. Loew surrendered just the one run on six hits over a career-high seven innings while walking three and striking out five.
Down 5-1, the Trojans put together another of their patented big innings, scoring seven times in the fifth to chase ASU starter Brad Allen and rough up closer John Koch (1-4). The first nine Trojans reached base in the inning with Bryant and Ditthardt’s homers doing the most damage.
“That big inning really helped my confidence,” Loew said. “We’ve been doing that all year and it really helps. It seems like once we get ahead, we stay ahead.”
Hoyle added a three-run blast in the sixth and Bryant hit a solo shot in the eighth. Chase Whitley accounted for the other Troy run with a solo homer in the first.
Depending on play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, the Troy-Arkansas State game will be televised live by CSS this afternoon. If there is a conflict from an SEC game, the game will be available free of charge on the Sun Belt web site, www.sunbeltsports.org, through the SBC Extra package.
Sunday’s Sun Belt title game will be televised by CSS and CST at 10 a.m. with Lyn Rollins and Ronnie Rantz providing the commentary.