Diamond Trojans open Sun Belt play at home Friday
TROY, Ala (troytrojans.com) – After playing nine of its last ten games away from Riddle-Pace Field, the Troy baseball team returns home to open conference play with a weekend series against No. 16 UL Lafayette.
The series opening game will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. with Saturday’s first pitch set for 3 p.m. and Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start. Video of all games will be streamed LIVE on TroyTrojans.com. Free audio broadcasts will be available all weekend on 94.7 WTBF and TroyTrojans.com.
Troy (9-6) is finally back in the friendly confines of Riddle-Pace Field. The Trojans played their last game at home on March 1, against Alabama and set a new attendance record. Troy went 2-4 in the previous six games away from home, but is fresh off a 10-0 shutout win over in-state rival Jacksonville State on Wednesday night.
The Trojan bullpen has been stellar through the first 15 games of the 2016 season. Trey Johns, has made 10 relief-pitching appearances, which is the most in the nation. Johns has not allowed an earned run in the 13.1 innings he’s pitched this year.
The weekend starters are a combined 5-3 with a 2.35 ERA together. They have averaged a little over six innings per outing, pitched a total 59 innings and have struck out 37 batters.
Grant Bennett (2-0) will get the nod on Friday night. The Hazel Green, Ala., native has 20 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched with a 1.80 ERA. Lucas Brown will get the start on Saturday. He’s 2-1 with 12 strikeouts in a team-high 21.1 innings pitched. Finally, Evan Hebert (1-2) will start the Sunday game. Hebert has only walked three in 17.2 innings of work.
The Trojans have started to find more green when putting the ball in play and have picked up 25 hits in their last two games. Troy only had 30 hits combined in its last five games before the midweek contests.
Reid Long leads the way offensively with a team-high five doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs. Brandon Lockridge has reached base safely in the last five games and brings a five-game hitting streak into conference play.
No. 16 UL Lafayette (8-5) is ranked in four out of the six national polls and has won three of its last five games. The Ragin’ Cajuns are led by Joe Robbins, who has a .460 batting average with three doubles, three triples and three home runs. He is slugging .820 and has a .508 on-base percentage.
The Ragin’ Cajuns will send three underclassmen on the mound as the starting rotation. The Friday night starter, Gunner Leger, is a sophomore with a 1.08 ERA and a 1-1 record. He’s got 13 strikeouts in 16.2 innings of work. Wyatt Marks will get the start on Saturday. The sophomore is 2-0, has a tam-high 21 strikeouts and opponents are only batting .169 when facing him. Sophomore Nick Lee (2-0) will get the start on Sunday. He has pitched 17 innings and has allowed 10 walks this season.
Troy trials the all-time series with UL Lafayette, 27-12 and fell to the Ragin’ Cajuns four times last season. The last time the two teams played, Troy lost, 12-8 and was eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.