TROY, Ala. – Shane McCain turned in another quality start and the Troy bats came alive in the middle innings as the Trojans defeated Middle Tennessee 5-3 Sunday afternoon at Riddle-Pace Field to complete the Sun Belt Conference sweep.
The Trojans (19-7, 6-3 Sun Belt) have now won six straight games and six of their last seven Sun Belt contests. It was Troy’s first sweep of Middle Tennessee (16-14, 3-6) since 2006 and first Sun Belt conference sweep since taking three from Western Kentucky in 2011; both years Troy went on to win the Sun Belt title. The Trojans have won 12 of their last 14 Sun Belt Conference series at Riddle-Pace Field.
McCain struck out the first four batters he faced in the game and went on to strikeout a career-best nine in the game. He improved to 5-0 on the year as he allowed just three runs on six hits over seven innings.
Ryan Sorce, who shut down Auburn on Tuesday night, pitched a scoreless eighth and Matthew Howard closed out the Blue Raiders in the ninth for his fifth save of the season and second in as many days.
Following a scoreless opening third to the game, Troy broke through with all five of its runs over the next three innings.
Logan Pierce led off the fourth with a single through the left-side of the infield and Danny Collins hit a screaming line drive off the wall in left-center field for his 11th double of the season. Pierce, who finished 3-for-4 in the game, scored all the way from first on the play to put Troy up 1-0.
Ryan Stephens tied the game in the top of the fifth with a two-out triple to center field after Dathan Prewett led of the inning with a single up the middle.
Josh McDorman, who had a walk-off single in the opener, led off the fifth with a single back up the middle and Ali Knowles drew a walk.
Brandon Brown executed a perfect sac bunt to put both runners in scoring position and Tyler Vaughn lined a single into center field to plate the pair. Vaughn, who finished 2-for-4, took second on an error by the Blue Raiders and then stole third base to force Middle Tennessee to draw in the infield. Pierce took advantage of the defensive decision with a single past Johnny Thomas at second to drive home Vaughn and give Troy a 4-1 lead.
Howard led off the sixth by drawing a walk from Blue Raider reliever Paul Mittura. Garrett Pitts then hit a chopper back to Mittura who misplayed the ball when he tried to bare hand the catch. He then sailed his throw all the way to right field which allowed Howard to score all the way from first and give Troy a 5-1 lead.
Ryan Ford pulled Middle Tennessee to within the final 5-3 margin with a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh.
Zac Curtis (4-3) suffered the loss for the Blue Raiders after he allowed four runs on six hits; he struck out one batter and walked three over 4.1 innings of work.
The Trojans step out of conference on Tuesday when they play host to Alabama State before hitting the road for a Sun Belt series at Louisiana-Lafayette next weekend.