TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 26 Troy opens play in the Tallahassee Regional on Friday against Alabama at Florida State’s Dick Howser Stadium; first pitch is set for 11 a.m. The game will be televised live on ESPNU and ESPN3.
The appearance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament is Troy’s second in the last three seasons and sixth overall as a Division I member. Troy (40-18), who is 7-10 overall in the NCAA Tournament, is making its fourth postseason appearance as a member of the Sun Belt Conference (joined in 2006) which is the most by any institution in the league during that time period.
The Trojans were an at-large selection into this year’s field of 64 after winning their second Sun Belt Conference regular season championship in the past three years. Troy and South Alabama finished with identical 20-10 league marks, but the Trojans were the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament.
The winner of the Troy and Alabama game will meet the winner of Friday’s Florida State (44-15) and Savannah State (33-21) game at 4 p.m. on Saturday, while the losers of the two games will play an elimination game on Saturday 11 a.m.
This will be the second meeting between Troy and Alabama (34-26) this season, but Friday’s matchup will come under much different circumstances. The Crimson Tide defeated the Trojans 11-2 in Tuscaloosa back on May 8 in a game that saw Alabama pad its lead with a six-run eighth inning.
Troy head coach Bobby Pierce addressed what that first game with the Crimson Tide means to the Trojans heading into Friday.
“Not much. The timing of that game with where we were with our pitching and where they were at with their pitching was much different. Regional play is a whole different level of focus with both teams healthy on the mound and putting their best on the mound,” Pierce said. “I think Alabama is playing really well late and that’s exactly what you want your team to be doing. Our team has had a great second half run, so I could say the same thing about our team.”
Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Shane McCain (8-1, 3.53) will get the start on the mound for Troy against Alabama. The junior southpaw leads the Sun Belt in wins, strikeouts (99) and opponent batting average (.223).
“I think one reason we’re excited because this team plays well in big situations,” McCain said. “Our mental strength starts on day one when come to the clubhouse in August with our coaches’ instilling a championship focus that we try to have day in and day out.”
Alabama will counter with senior Charley Sullivan (5-6, 3.56), who held LSU to three runs on eight hits in eight innings of work in the SEC Tournament last week. Sullivan has struck out 75 batters in 91.0 innings of work and opponents are batting .284 against the right-hander.
Troy enters the Tallahassee Regional averaging 7.3 runs per game on the season, which leads all of the four squads, as does the Trojans’ .295 team batting average.
The first four batters in the Trojan lineup earned All-Sun Belt honors with Tyler Vaughn, Logan Pierce and Danny Collins landing on the first team and cleanup hitter Trae Santos picking up second team distinction.
Pierce leads all players in the Tallahassee Regional with a .373 batting average, while Collins’ 24 doubles and Santos’ 16 homers also lead all players in the Tallahassee Regional.
“Naturally, you’re going to have more intensity as a player (playing in a Regional),” Pierce said. “Adrenaline and an extra level of focus are all going to be there because of the stage you’re on. It’s all about controlling that and using it your advantage. Having confidence and focus throughout every game is usually who wins these kinds of games. I think we’re going to keep those under control and play our game.”
The Trojans have hit 144 doubles, 15 triples and 52 home runs this season; Troy’s doubles and home run totals are more than the other three teams in the Tallahassee Regional. Florida State and Troy have hit the most doubles in the country over the past three seasons; the Seminoles have hit 423 doubles and the Trojans 418 over that period.
Troy’s first NCAA Tournament appearance as a Division I member came in Tallahassee in 1995. The Trojans defeated Wright State twice in the NCAA Play-In Game to advance to Tallahassee.
All of Troy’s games in the Tallahassee Regional will be broadcast live on the Troy IMG Sports Network with local coverage on 94.7 FM in Troy and worldwide coverage online and on smartphones at TroyTrojans.com/showcase.
Every game of the Tallahassee Regional will air live on ESPNU & ESPN3, with the lone exception of game two featuring Florida State and Savannah State which will air only on ESPN3.
The Tallahassee Regional is paired up with the Bloomington Regional as the winners from both regional sites will square-off in a best-of-three series beginning on either Friday, June 7 or Saturday, June 8. The four schools competing in the Bloomington Regional include Indiana (43-14), Austin Peay (45-13), Florida (29-28) and Valparaiso (31-26).
The complete schedule for the Tallahassee Regional is listed below:
Friday, May 31, 2013
Game 1: Alabama vs. Troy - 11 a.m. (ESPNU/ESPN3)
Game 2: Florida State vs. Savannah State - 4 p.m. (ESPN3)
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 11 a.m. (ESPNU/ESPN3)
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 4:00 p.m. (ESPNU/ESPN3)
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – 11 a.m. (ESPNU/ESPN3)
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 - 4 p.m. (ESPNU/ESPN3)
Monday, June 3, 2013
Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary) - 3 p.m. (ESPNU/ESPN3)
**All game times are subject to change**