ORLANDO – Logan Pierce and Clay Holcomb each hit a pair of doubles and Troy got dominant pitching from its bullpen as the Trojans defeated Texas Tech 10-3 in the opening game of the Wawa Weekend Classic Friday afternoon at Jay Bergman Field in Orlando, Fla.
Pierce, the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year, tied a career high with four hits and Holcomb tied his career-best performance with a perfect 3-for-3 afternoon. The Trojans (5-0) belted out 14 hits in the game with six going for extra bases; the Red Raiders (4-1) allowed a combined two runs and 23 hits in four games last weekend.
Tyler Vaughn finished 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs from the leadoff spot while Trae Santos was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and Garrett Pitts hit his first home run of the season.
Matthew Howard came out of the Troy bullpen in the sixth inning with the Trojans leading 5-2 lead. With two on and nobody out, Howard struck out Texas Tech leadoff hitter Brett Bell on three straight pitches before issuing a walk to load the bases. The Red Raiders were able to get a run home on a fielder’s choice before Howard struck out Mason Randolph on three pitches to end the inning. Howard came back out in the seventh inning and struck out the side with just 10 pitches.
Will Starling (2-0) picked up the win for the Trojans after tossing five innings of five-hit ball. The junior right-hander struck out four and walked four before turning the ball over to the bullpen. Thomas Austin and Nate Hill struck out a batter each in the eighth and ninth inning, respectively, to close out the game.
The Red Raiders struck first on a two-run single by Devon Conley in the first inning. Bell led off the game with a single but Starling battled back and struck out the next two Texas Tech batters. However, back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Conley who took the first pitch he saw back up the middle.
Holcomb got things rolling for the Trojans in the third inning with a one-out double to right-center field and Vaughn followed with a single through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Pierce put the Trojans on the board with a single back up the middle and two batters later Santos delivered a two-out single up the middle that put the Trojans in the lead for good.
Pitts hit Troy’s fifth home run of the season with one out in the fourth to extend the Troy lead to 4-2. In the fifth, Pierce doubled down the line in right field with one out and Santos punched a single back up the middle against Texas Tech reliever Jonny Drozd for Troy’s fifth run of the game.
The Trojans broke the game open with a three-run sixth inning thanks to a pair of Red Raider errors on back-to-back plays. Pitts and Josh McDorman reached on one-out errors and Troy made them pay as Holcomb, Vaughn and Pierce delivered consecutive RBI singles around a pair of double steals as the Trojans opened up an 8-3 advantage.
Holcomb led off the eighth with his second double of the game and scored Troy’s ninth run of the afternoon when Vaughn singled back up the middle. Following deep fly out by Pierce, National Player of the Week Danny Collins doubled home Vaughn to cap the scoring.
Dominic Moreno (1-1) took the loss for Texas Tech after he allowed five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work. Conley was the lone Red Raider with multiple hits as he finished 2-for-4; Texas Tech was limited to just six hits in the game by the four Trojan pitchers.
The Trojans continue play at the Wawa Weekend Classic on Saturday when they take on Connecticut at 12 p.m. (CST).