MOBILE, Ala. – Troy won its second Sun Belt Conference championship in three seasons with a 6-3 victory Saturday night at No. 18 South Alabama.
Troy (39-16, 20-10 Sun Belt) became just the second Sun Belt team to take a series from South Alabama (40-16, 20-10) and the first to do so at Stanky Field. The Trojans and Jaguars will share the regular season title, but Troy will be the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament due to the league tiebreakers.
The Trojans have won three Sun Belt titles since they joined the league in 2006 and have now won four conference championships under head coach Bobby Pierce.
Logan Pierce, who hit two doubles and homered on Friday, swung the momentum in favor of the Trojans early with a two-run homer in the first inning. Pierce has hit three doubles, four homers and driven in nine runs over the past five games.
The Trojans would never relinquish the lead thanks to the gutsy pitching of Nate Hill, Thomas Austin and Tanner Hicks. Hill made his 95th appearance in a Troy uniform, but his first as a starter. The senior, who was battling cramps all night, held the Jaguars to a pair of runs over three innings.
Austin took over in the third and tossed a pair of scoreless innings before turning the ball over to Hicks. Austin (3-1) picked up the win for the Trojans as he was also making his 95th career appearance.
Hicks, who picked up the win with 3.1 shutout innings in game two, tossed the final four innings Saturday night, allowing just one run on four hits to pick up his first career save. Over the two games, Hicks threw 7.1 innings with seven strikeouts and just one run allowed.
Josh McDorman doubled Troy’s lead in the third with a two-run double to right-center field with the bases loaded. Brandon Brown, who finished 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, led off the inning with a single while Pierce and Trae Santos drew walks.
The Jaguars answered in the home half of the third with back-to-back RBI singles by Jordan Patterson and Nick Zaharion.
Tyler Vaughn reached on a two-base error to lead off the fifth and moved to third on a grounder by Pierce. Vaughn scored his 70th run of the season on a sac fly by Danny Collins to extend Troy’s lead to 5-3.
Collins struck again in the seventh with a two-out RBI single to left after Brown led off the frame with a single and Vaughn sacrificed him to second.
Bud Collura pulled the Jaguars within the final 6-3 margin with an RBI grounder in the bottom of the ninth before Hicks struck out Patterson to end the game.
Troy will open play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Lafayette, La., against Arkansas State. The time of the game will be announced when the league releases the tournament bracket.
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