By Josh Brown
TROY — A visit from an inter-county rival — and a mammoth first-inning home run by Greg Johnson — provided the cure for Troy’s post-Butler hangover.
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, would probably be happier not playing baseball on Saturday after the past two.
Johnson hit a two-run homer that went over both the Market Street Field fence and over the softball field next door’s outfield fence that set the tone for the opener of a doubleheader Saturday, and Collin Moeller also hit a two-run shot in a 10-3 Trojan victory over the Red Devils to start the day. And while Tippecanoe was able to keep pace with the scoring in the second game, the Trojans still were able to answer and push the winning run across in the bottom of the sixth to complete the sweep, 6-5.
Troy (12-8) had a long week. After falling behind in the top of the ninth in a tense game against league rival Butler Tuesday that was suspended, the Trojans bounced back with a convincing 11-6 win the next day. Then after falling in the completion of Tuesday’s game on Thursday, the Trojans were three-hit and blown out by Lebanon on Friday, 10-0.
“We were really looking to see how we rebounded after a game like that,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “Much like earlier in the week when we came back the next day and played well, we came back today and beat a good baseball team.”
For Tippecanoe (17-5) — which was swept in a Saturday doubleheader for the second straight week after Olentangy Liberty did it last week — it was just a question of pitching depth — something the Devils normally have an answer for. But after using four pitchers in a big league win against Bellefontaine Friday, and with a two-game league series against Springfield Shawnee Monday and Tuesday followed directly by the completion of a suspended game against Bellefontaine on Wednesday — a game that sits 0-0 in the sixth inning — Tippecanoe just has to be careful who it uses and for how long.
“The bottom line is that it comes down to Saturday pitching,” Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill said. “We’re throwing two freshmen today, and they’re going to be good someday. They’re pretty good right now even. But we’ve just got to have someone to eat up innings on days like today”
And freshman Brad Calhoun was tested early by Troy. After Ryan Lavy drew a walk to lead off, Johnson hammered a ball that would have been long gone even without the assistance of a strong wind, putting Troy up 2-0 in the first. Kevin McGraw and Trenton Wood followed with back-to-back one-out singles, but Calhoun was able to work his way out of trouble.
Tippecanoe, who entered the day as the No. 2 team in Ohio in Division II, fought back in the top of the second. Justyn Eichbaum led off with a triple and was singled home by Aaron Hughes with one out, then Hughes was able to tie the score at 2-2 on a two-out throwing error.
But again, Troy was quick to respond in the bottom of the inning. Collin Moeller doubled and was driven in on a single by Daniel Powell to give the lead back to Troy, then Johnson followed with an RBI single to make it a 4-2 game and chase Calhoun after 1 1-3 innings. Eichbaum came in and eventually finished off the game, but two more runs scored in the second on a series of wild pitches to make it 6-2.
Troy added two more runs in the fifth on a two-run blast by Moeller, and two more in the sixth on an RBI sac fly by Wood and an RBI single by Alex Magoteaux.
“Calhoun was 4-0 coming in, but he’s still working on his out pitches,” Cahill said. “We knew if we didn’t keep pace with their scoring, something like this would happen. Today is just a hitter’s day, and we didn’t match them.”
“It was good for us to come out and swing the bats the way we did,” Welker said. “Especially against a good baseball team like Tipp. A lot of these guys know each other, play with or against each other in the summer, so this is a good local rivalry.”
Ben Hughes hit an inside-the-park home run for the Devils in the fifth that made it 6-3 at the time, but that was the only blemish Troy starter Ryan Lavy had after the second inning. Lavy went six innings for the win, striking out four, walking two and giving up five hits and two earned runs. Zach Kendall pitched the seventh to close the game out.
The second game went back and forth, as both teams scored two in the first then Tipp took a 4-2 lead in the top of the fourth. Troy answered with three in the bottom of the inning, though, Tipp tied in the the fifth and Troy won it in the sixth.
Dalton Cascaden got the win in relief of Jared Bair for Troy, and Ben Langdon pitched the seventh for a save. Zack Blair got the loss for Tipp, giving up nine hits in a complete game.
Johnson continued his big day, going 1 for 3 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. Nick Sanders was 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs and Cody Hackney was 2 for 3 with a double, while Evan Gilliam doubled for the Red Devils.
“We fought hard,” Welker said. “Every time they’d score, we’d answer right back. The boys worked hard and beat a really good baseball team.”
Troy faces Trotwood in a home-and-away series on Monday and Tuesday and will clinch at least a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title if it wins both games — and then it will be rooting for Sidney to knock off Butler so that it can win the title outright. Tippecanoe, meanwhile, will clinch the outright Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division title with a win in any of its three league games Monday through Wednesday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.