TROY, Ala. – Will Starling struck out five over three scoreless innings and Ali Knowles drove in three runs to lead Troy past Florida A&M 8-2 in the 2013 season opener Friday night at Riddle-Pace Field.
Starling (1-0), who was making his first career start for the Trojans, allowed just one hit and one walk over his three scheduled innings of work.
The Trojans (1-0) jumped on Rattlers’ starter David Duncan in the first inning as Tyler Vaughn led off the frame with a single back up the middle and moved into scoring position after stealing second. Following a pair of outs, Danny Collins was hit by a pitch and a passed ball moved both runners up a base for Trae Santos, who delivered a two-run single into left field.
Troy broke the game open with a six-run fifth inning off a trio of Florida A&M (0-1) pitchers. Jakob Nixon got the inning rolling with a one-out triple down the line in left field and Logan Pierce cashed him in with a single back up the middle.
Collins was hit by his second pitch of the night and Santos drew a walk to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Pierce and David Hall drew a walk to reload the bases. Collins gave Troy a 4-0 lead as he scored on a passed ball and then Jake Harrell was hit by a pitch to load the bags for the third time in the frame. Following the second out of the inning, Knowles lined a triple into left-center field to clear the bases and give the Trojans an 8-0 advantage.
Joe Hernandez was the first out of the bullpen for the Trojans and he held the Rattlers to three hits over his three innings of work. Hernandez struck out three as the five Troy pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts in the game. Thomas Austin and Matthew Howard followed Hernandez with a scoreless frame each.
Reginald Grant, who finished 3-for-4 in the game, ended Troy’s shutout bit with a triple down the line in left field to score Michael Birdson after he led off the ninth by drawing a walk. Kelvin Singletary followed with a double to right-center to score Grant and close the scoring.
Duncan (0-1) took the loss for the Rattlers after he was charged with five runs – four earned – on five hits in 4.1 innings of work.
The Trojans and Rattlers continue their four-series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. Junior right-hander Tanner Hicks is slated to starter the opener on the mound for the Trojans and junior southpaw Shane McCain is scheduled to start the nightcap.
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