Troy Dominates Florida Atlantic in Series Opener

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Tanner Hicks threw his second straight complete game and Trae Santos hit two home runs to lead Troy past Florida Atlantic 8-3 Friday night in the Sun Belt Conference series opener at FAU Stadium.

Hicks (6-2), who was one strike away from tossing a shutout, struck out nine and finished with a six-hitter. Hicks did not walk a batter in the game and has allowed runs in just three of his last 26 innings of work.

The victory was the seventh in a row for Troy (31-11, 12-7 Sun Belt) and moves the Trojans into sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt, just a game back of South Alabama. Troy’s seven-game win streak is the fourth longest active streak in the country.

Santos gave Troy a 2-0 lead with a solo shot to lead off the fourth inning and then extended the lead out to 5-0 with a two-run homer in the fifth. The junior now leads the Sun Belt with 12 home runs on the season; it was his third multi-home run game of the year, all of which have come in Sun Belt play (South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette).

Logan Pierce put Troy on the board in the first with a double to left field after Tyler Vaughn worked a walk to open the game. The double extended Pierce’s streak of reaching base to 47 games, the longest in the country.

The Trojans chased Owl starter Austin Gomber after 4.2 innings of work, his shortest outing of the season. Gomber (4-4) allowed six runs on eight hits after entering with a 2.44 ERA.

Brandon Brown led off the fifth with a single to center and moved into scoring position on a sac bunt from Vaughn. Collins kept the inning alive with an RBI single through the left side of the infield before Santos’ second homer.

Josh McDorman, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, followed with an infield single and took second on a FAU throwing error. Matthew Howard gave the Trojans a 6-0 lead with a single to center field.

Howard tripled home McDorman with two outs in the seventh and Garrett Pitts picked up his second hit of the night as he beat out an infield single to score Howard and give Troy an 8-0 lead.

Troy’s four through seven hitters finished 10-for-18 with five runs scored and six RBIs; Howard was 3-for-5, while Santos and Pitts finished 2-for-5.

Tyler Rocklein broke up Hicks’ shutout bid with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth with two outs on a 1-2 count. It was the first inning all game that the Owls (26-16, 11-8) got a runner past first base.

The teams will play game two of the series Saturday at 3 p.m. (CDT) and southpaw Shane McCain (7-0, 4.20) will get the start on the mound for Troy.

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