*From Troy Media Relations*
MOBILE, Ala. – Garrett Pitts hit a solo home run in the 13th inning and Shane McCain became the first pitcher in Troy history record 100 strikeouts in back-to-back seasons as the Trojans defeated Arkansas State 4-3 at Stanky Field in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championships.
With the teams tied knotted at three runs each, Pitts launched a 2-0 fastball over the wall in left-center field. It was the second game-winning home run of the season for Pitts. The senior hit a walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth against Central Michigan at Riddle-Pace Field on Feb. 22. The 13-inning affair tied the longest game in the history of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
With a five-pitch punch-out of Arkansas State right fielder Kevin Fitzpatrick to lead off the sixth inning, McCain recorded his 100th strikeout of the season. The senior southpaw struck out six batters in the game to give him 101 on the season. In his run to being named 2013 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, McCain struck out 105 batters. He will finish his career second in the Troy history book in career strikeouts; he currently has 273.
Troy got off to a good start offensively. Clay Holcomb led off the game with a single to right and Jakob Nixon extended his reached base streak to 16 games with a walk. After Pitts sacrificed the runners to second and third, David Hall singles to center to score the game’s first run. The next batter, Ali Knowles, hit a deep fly ball to left field to score Nixon and hand the Trojans a 2-0 advantage.
In the third, Hall, Nick Masonia and Matthew Howard all walked to load the bases. With two outs, Adam Tewksbury hit a high chopper to the ASU third baseman and legged out an infield single, allowing Hall to cross and extend the lead to 3-0.
Things would remain quiet until the seventh when Arkansas State scratched, what seemed to be, a harmless run off of McCain.
Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, Marc Skinner, entered with a runner on first in the ninth. After a hit batsman and a strikeout, Dustin Jones singled, scoring pinch runner Kaleb Brown. With the tying run on third base, Ty Michelotti hit a fly ball deep enough to left to allow the runner to score and tie the game.
Skinner stayed on to pitch five innings in relief and earn his sixth win of the season.
McCain finished the game allowing two runs on four hits, he walked one and struck out six in eight innings of work. David Hall was the lone player to record multiple hits; he was 2-for-3.
The Trojans will take on the winner of the South Alabama/UT Arlington game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.