TROY, Ala. – Justin Hancock sent the game to extra innings with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the ninth and No. 25 Troy won the game on a walk-off balk in the 10th. Troy’s 4-3 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday at Riddle-Pace Field extended the nation’s longest home win streak to 18 games.
Hancock, who had just five at-bats since March 12, was plucked from the bench by head coach Bobby Pierce after Clay Holcomb kept Troy’s hopes alive with a two-out walk. The junior catcher hit a screaming line drive to the wall in left field and the speedy Holcomb scored all the way from first to tie the game.
John Koch, who surrendered the walk-off double to Ali Knowles in the opener Friday night, walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th and then balked with Garrett Pitts at the plate and two outs in the inning to bring home Logan Pierce for the game-winning run.
Troy (37-13, 18-8 Sun Belt) has now won 12 straight Sun Belt Conference home games and 13 of its last 15 games overall. The victory clinches the series in Troy’s favor after the Trojans dramatic 1-0 win on Friday; Troy has won 11 of its last 15 Sun Belt Conference series and 15 of its last 17 home conference series.
The teams have played 20 innings in the first two games of the series and have been tied at the end of 18 of the 20 frames.
Shane McCain turned in Troy’s second straight outstanding starting pitching performance. The junior southpaw struck out 10 batters, while allowing just four hits, one walk and two runs over seven inning. Tanner Hicks tossed 7.2 scoreless innings in Friday’s series opener for the Trojans.
Pierce made a fantastic defensive play in the top of the 10th inning to keep the game deadlocked at 3-3. Thomas Austin nicked Ryan Emery with a pitch to lead off the inning. He was sacrificed to second and then moved to third on a wild pitch.
Troy elected to intentionally walk Logan Uxa to face Kevin Fitzpatrick, who was inserted earlier in the game as a pinch runner. With a 3-0 count, Fitzpatrick was given the green light and he hit a hard grounder to Pierce, who started a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Red Wolves (24-27, 10-16) took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth on a two-out double by Dustin Jones after Stuart Levy doubled with one out; it was Levy who was replaced by Fitzpatrick.
Ryan Roberts broke open a scoreless game in the fifth with a one-out homer. A single by Collin Massanolli followed a Jones single and stolen base to give Arkansas State a 2-0 advantage.
The Trojans answered right back in their half of the fifth after Josh McDorman led off the inning with a single and Matthew Howard walked. Pitts drove a double down the line in right to score McDorman and move Howard to third.
Holcomb, who took over for Knowles after he was hit by a pitch in the third, battled at the plate and hit a squibber to first that scored Howard to tie the game.
Howard (2-2) picked up the win on the mound for the Trojans after he induced the double play from Fitzpatrick in the 10th. Nate Hill and Thomas Austin both threw quality innings out of the bullpen for Troy and they will enter Sunday’s final home game of the season tied for first in career appearances with 92.
Koch (3-6) was saddled with the loss for the second straight day; he allowed two runs on two hits and five walks in 2.2 innings of work.
Troy will honor its nine seniors prior to Sunday’s series and home finale. The ceremony will begin at approximately 12:35 p.m. at Riddle-Pace Field with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday’s game will be Fan/Mother’s Appreciation Day and all fans will be admitted free to the game.
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