*From Troy Media Relations*
TROY, Ala. – Boone Shear capped a dramatic Troy comeback with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Troy a 7-6 victory over South Alabama in game one of a Sun Belt Conference series with a multitude of storylines.
The final weekend of play in the Sun Belt started with six teams within two games of each other battling for four spots in the league tournament next week. Every win and every loss across the Sun Belt on Thursday carried the utmost of importance.
Troy entered the ninth inning facing the number two saves man in the league in Kyle Bartsch, who entered the game with 10 saves.
Senior Tyler Hannah, who delivered a clutch two-run double earlier in the game, drew a lead-off walk to set the table in the ninth. One of the best stories in all of college baseball, Tyler Vaughn, legged out a double that fell in between three South Alabama defenders in shallow center field.
The Jaguars elected to not pitch around the Trojans' leading hitter Logan Pierce with runners and second and third and he made them pay for that decision with a sac fly to left field to tie the game. What nobody in the ballpark was expecting was for Vaughn to tag up and take third on the play.
Once again South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi was faced with the decision of pitching to Shear and then Danny Collins behind him or loading the bases with a pair of walks. Calvi once again decided against the intentional walk and Shear punched a 3-2 fastball into left field for the game winner.
Collins, Vaughn and Jakob Nixon all had two hits for the Trojans (25-28, 13-15 Sun Belt) who move into fifth place in the Sun Belt standings with the victory. Troy can lock up its berth in the Sun Belt Tournament with a victory in game two of the series on Friday at 6 p.m. Nixon drove in a pair of runs while Hannah scored a pair.
Nate Hill (6-2) tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Tyler Ray to pick up the victory. Hill allowed a pair of hits and struck out two. Ray, who made his final start at Riddle-Pace Field, scattered nine hits over six innings and allowed six runs – five earned – while striking out three.
The Jaguars (20-32, 14-14) took the lead in the top of the seventh inning with four straight singles from the top of the order. Whitt Dorsey tied the game at 5-all with a single back up the middle and Jordan Patterson then hit one off the wall in right field that was just a single because Dorsey was not running on contact to give USA the lead. A grounder to short and a double play ended the inning.
Nixon and Nolan Early matched solo homers in the second and first innings, respectively, to take a 1-1 game into an eventful fifth inning.
Dorsey gave the Jags a 2-1 lead with an RBI grounder to first that the Trojans couldn't handle for their only error of the game. Patterson padded the South Alabama lead with a grounder to second and Drew Cofield made it a three-run inning with a grounder to short.
Like the Trojans have done throughout the second half of the season, they fought back and tied the game in the home half of the frame.
Jake Harrell was hit by a one-out pitch and Clay Holcomb singled to right following the second out of the inning. Hannah then lined his 42nd career double down the line in left field to clear the bases and pull Troy within one, 4-3. Vaughn took the second pitch of his at-bat the other way to right field to score Hannah and tie the game.
The Trojans had a prime opportunity to blow the game open in the sixth after loading the bases with no outs. Shear reached on an error by the Jaguars and moved to third on Collins' 17th double of the season. Nixon gave the Trojans a 6-5 lead with an infield single. Harrell was once again hit by a pitch which loaded the bases, but back-to-back strikeouts and a fly ball to center ended the threat.
Bartsch (1-3) took the loss after he allowed two runs on three hits in two innings. Starter Phillip Byrd left after he allowed five runs – four earned – on five hits in five innings.