Thursday, June 30, 2011

Troy's schedule: Last four games

EDITOR'S NOTE - this is a preloaded blog post from over the weekend.

9. NORTH TEXAS (Nov. 12, time TBA) - For North Texas, there's no sense searching around for links. Nobody covers this program better than our friend Brett Vito, so just spend some time reading his blog HERE.

10. FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Nov. 19, time TBA) - FAU must improve its defense. Coaches recently spent time talking D with the Miami Dolphins staff. Also, on Ted Hutton's blog, plenty of info, including a stadium picture.

11. at WESTERN KENTUCKY (Nov. 26, noon) - 2nd year coach Willie Taggart feels like his players are growing up. Also, an interview with athletics director Ross Bjork

12. at ARKANSAS STATE (Dec. 3, time TBA) - New coach Hugh Freeze has some star power to his name. He says the key to success is Finding It.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Troy's schedule: Middle four games

EDITOR'S NOTE - this is a preloaded blog post from over the weekend.

5. at UL-LAFAYETTE (Oct. 8, time TBA) - The rivals.com season preview certainly doesn't give ULL much of a chance.

6. UL-MONROE (Oct. 15, time TBA) - The Warhawks are getting good work in this summer.

7. at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (Oct. 25, 7 p.m., ESPN2) - Couldn't find any recent FIU football news, but go HERE to the Miami Herald's sports page and link to the blog.

8. at NAVY (Nov. 5, 2:30 p.m.) - I'm not a Bleacher Report fan, but THIS is the best I could do for Navy, which must replace some key players.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Troy's schedule: First four games

EDITOR'S NOTE - this is a preloaded blog post from over the weekend.

Before you read further, check out this story from the Wall Street Journal HERE on the NCAA's last innocents (Troy is one of them!).

Let's take a look at what the first four opponents on Troy's schedule are up to

1. at CLEMSON (Sept. 3, 2:30 p.m.) - Look at some of Clemson's top NFL Draft prospects. Also, a column on Dabo Swinney. A one-on-one with new offensive coordinator Chad Morris.

2. at ARKANSAS (Sept. 17, time TBA) - Hogs are getting work off the field. The defense should be very good. The Hogs have plenty of weapons returning.

3. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (Sept. 24, time TBA) - Blue Raiders early enrollees are getting a jump on the season. MTSU is focusing on leadership.

4. UAB (Oct. 1, time TBA) - Seems like some people think UAB needs a new coach, namely one Rush Propst. But current coach Neil Callaway had his contract extended through 2012. The Blazers are looking at plans for an on-campus stadium.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More time off, but leave your questions

Guys, bad timing, but I'm taking another week off.

This one wasn't my choice as last week's vacation was. Our parent company, Media General, is making all employees across the 7-8 states in TV, newspaper, finance, etc., take 15 furlough days for the rest of the year.

I'm taking two separate full weeks in July - this week, and during the last week. Just letting you know ahead of time why news won't come from me, but if anything happens, check dothaneagle.com or follow @eaglesports on twitter.

My last 5 days will be spread out so I can sneak them by without announcing to everyone why there is no Troy news on my end.

Meanwhile, how 'bout a mailbag? You leave your questions about Troy athletics or life in general on this post or any post, or e-mail dchamplin@dothaneagle.com, and I will answer them in a blog post next weekend.

Right now I am working on some pre-loaded blog posts throughout the week, so it won't be empty. Most of it is just links and stuff, but better than nothing. When the last week in July rolls around, it'll be the week after Sun Belt Teleconference Days, but before the first week of practice, so I should have more information around then.

Again, I hate doing this, but it's out of my control. I think I did pick good timing for my days, though. If only I don't bore myself to tears. I'll take recommendations for Netflix shows, which streams on my PS3.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Troy on PreSnapRead

I've always liked this blog. It's a college football blog, and a detailed countdown of how good this guy thinks the teams are heading into the year.

Troy checks in at No. 68, the best among Sun Belt teams. Paul Myerberg, the site owner, has a Sun Belt forecast HERE.

Update on ABC raid

A quick, very quick break from my vacation to bring you news reporter Greg Phillips' story on the fraternity party being busted in Troy with several arrests. You can read it HERE.

It's significant on my end because some athletes were arrested. However, I don't know who they are. Names of all arrested haven't been released yet, and I still believe that my co-workers are handling it while I'm still unavailable. Check DothanEagle.com for more. We have put in requests to find out who all was cited/arrested.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just a heads up

I will be on vacation starting today and returning June 26. I plan on having one or two pre-loaded blog posts coming up with some extra notes I got from coach Larry Blakeney at the youth football camp in Dothan.

In the meantime, want to learn about the rest of the Sun Belt (and the country)? Check out Paul Myerberg's PreSnapRead blog HERE.

He's counting down the teams in order of how good he thinks they are, based on research, from 120 to 1. Today, we're at 74 with Louisiana Tech. We haven't seen Troy yet, but I've got to think it's on the way.

OTHER SUN BELT SCHOOLS and Troy opponents

No. 80 - Arkansas State
No. 91 - Middle Tennessee
No. 94 - ULM
No. 99 - UAB
No. 102 - North Texas
No. 106 - Florida Atlantic
No. 109 - Western Kentucky
No. 117 - Louisiana-Lafayette.

No sign of Troy or FIU yet from the Sun Belt, though I think we'll see them both before we leave the 60s.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday link

HERE is the football story I wrote today, mostly on the WRs but also on the Troy coaches having a youth camp in Dothan.

I get the feeling this will get moved around a bit during fall camp, but here's a look at the WR positions heading in. This is really in no particular order.

X - Felton Payton (So.), Sam Haskins (So.,), Hollis Moore (Jr.)
H - Corey Johnson (Jr.), Justin Albert (So.), Khary Franklin (So.), Chris Anderson (Jr., also a running back)
Y - Eric Thomas (So.), Jaquon Robinson (Jr.)
Z - Brett Moncrief (Sr.), BJ Chitty (RFr.)
TE - Jim Teknipp (So.), Gavin Ellis (So.)

Add Chandler Worthy, a true freshman, to the list this fall. I may be missing a name or two. Worthy will be one of several freshman enrolling for the second summer term next week. Troy signed Bryan Holmes as well, but he's a possible grayshirt.

If Jamel Johnson, who will play at Holmes Community College this fall, and Chip Reeves, who will have to take classes at a community college this fall, can get their academics back in order, and from what I've heard, the hurdles are not that high, they'll be back in Troy next spring.

"Chip could get back," head coach Larry Blakeney said. "He needs to use a missed term, which means he can't go full time in the fall, which means he can't be on full scholarship here in the fall. It means he needs to go on his own to a community college, get some hours and get back on scholarship in the spring term and finish out his eligibility.

"It can be very easily attained. We had a long meeting with his mom and the academic people. They mapped it out for him. He’s a dynamic little player. He’s one of the best deep threats we’ve ever had."

"Jamel, he’s going to Holmes. We’ve got a buddy there (on the coaching staff) that we can try to get him going and we think we can get him back in the spring."

Troy's been recruiting some good receivers, so if those guys are back, then it'll be good. If not, well they'll be fine. You never know, a guy like Payton or Haskins could explode onto the scene and catch 40 passes this year.

However, don't look for a pair of defensive players who are ineligible - KeJuan Phillips and Mark Wilson - to be back. Blakeney didn't really say much on Wilson. I wouldn't rule it out, but chances are probably slim.

"I don’t know if we sent Mark to junior college or not," Blakeney said. "KeJuan probably needs to go somewhere else to try to play. He’s been ineligible two out of his three years. That breaks my heart because he is a pretty good player. When he plays within himself, he’s good. I like the kid. He’s not a bad kid, but he’s not motivated to do well enough academically."

***Troy is hosting a prospects camp today (Friday). Might lead to a commitment, but there's another prospect camp on July 22

***Basketball note. This might be old news, but I was waiting until after the first summer term to get the hoops roster updated. It'll have to be the week after next since I'm on vacation next week. Three players on last year's roster - Shawntez Patterson, DeAndrae Ross and Flynn Clayman are transferring.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Larry Blakeney football camp in Dothan

A heads up, the Larry Blakeney football camp is in Dothan Thursday. I'll try to catch the coaches during the in-between sessions at Rip Hewes Stadium. The young kids go from 8-11 a.m., and the older kids (up to age 13 I believe) go from 1-4 p.m.

That means I'll actually get a football story in Friday's paper. Believe it or not, practice starts in early August, about 6 weeks from now.

What to write about? This one will focus on who's going to catch passes for the Trojans this fall. The four starters for last year have graduated. Also, as you know if you follow our coverage, two more guys who played a lot became academically ineligible.

The only non-running back with double-digit catches returning is senior Brett Moncrief. Well, he missed spring with a broken foot, and he's set for a surgery sometime this week (may have already had it). That's a big setback, but the hope is it'll heal by the time practice starts.

Moncrief was supposed to move from Y (inside right slot) to X (outside left) receiver. I still get the feeling that if he's healthy, he'll have a good season.

But if he's not, the only two receivers returning with catches are sophomores Eric Thomas (9 catches, 120 yards, 1 TD) and Khary Franklin, who had 2 catches for (-3) yards on those shovel passes that they used to pad Jerrel Jernigan's stats. (But they'll keep using them because they are effective).

JUCO transfer Corey Johnson had a great spring and is primed for a big year. But I look forward to seeing what the coaches have to say about the rest of the group tomorrow.

***I've known Greg Wallace for several years, dating back to when he was covering Alabama for the Birmingham Post-Herald when I was in school. He know covers Clemson for the Anderson Independent-Mail. He asked me some questions, and I answered HERE in his blog.

You can read his Clemson coverage HERE and follow him on twitter @aimclemson.





Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Chase Riddle link

This comes from Ken Rogers, our award-winning columnist who did a great job with this one as well.

You can read it HERE.

The funeral for coach Chase Riddle is today (Tuesday).

Also of note, Troy second baseman T.J. Rivera inked a free-agent deal with the New York Mets. Good for him, as Rivera was a slick-fielding second baseman and a steady hitter as well. He'll be a tough guy to replace on the diamond.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Link to Riddle story

A huge thanks to Mark Smartt (former player), Tom Ensey (sports information director when Riddle was coaching), Don Maestri (coached/lived near Riddle) and Gene Dews (coached under Riddle) for their help in the story.

I probably could have tracked down 20 different players and gotten several different stories, but wanted to diversify it a little bit.

HERE is the story in Monday's paper on Chase Riddle's passing.

Ken Rogers will have a column Tuesday. Ken tried out for the Troy baseball team as a freshman in the early 80s when Riddle was there.

2005 story on Chase Riddle

I wrote this back in March of 2005 before Chase Riddle was set to go to the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame. I started with the Eagle back in Feb. 2005, so this was one of the first stories I wrote.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Not wanting to travel anymore,
Riddle became a Troy fixture
BY DREW CHAMPLIN
Eagle Staff Writer

Two very
important things
have kept Chase
Riddle tied down
to the Wiregrass
over the past 55
years — his wife
and baseball.

Riddle,
arguably the most
successful baseball
coach in Troy
University history,
will be one of
11 inductees to the Wiregrass Sports
Hall of Fame on March 26 at the
Dothan Civic Center. But he may
never have gone the Wiregrass path
if it not had been for one special person
— his wife.

Riddle was set to play professionally
before he met and married the
former Betty Jean Clark of Ozark.

He didn’t know where he’d be
traveling, as the rigors of minor
league baseball send people all over
the country, so he realized he’d
rather stay home with his wife. As a
matter of fact, the Riddles celebrated
a 55th wedding anniversary on
March 15.

“Along the way I met a young
lady and that changed the plans of this young man,” Riddle said. “I didn’t
want to go off anymore. This young lady’s
influence had a lot of bearing on my life.”

So Riddle became a player-manager in
the Alabama Florida League in 1951, playing
with the Ozark Eagles for two years.

He spent time with the Panama City Fliers
in 1953 before playing in Texas the next
season and returning to manage the
Dothan Cardinals — a class D affiliate of
major league baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals
— in 1955.

Riddle actually became a part of the
Cardinals organization in 1954 before
becoming the Cardinal Scouting Supervisor
for the Southeastern United States and
Latin America in 1962. From there, he discovered
and signed several future major
leaguers — perhaps none more famous
than four-time Cy Young Award Winner
Steve Carlton, who signed with the Cardinals
but achieved great fame as a lefthanded
pitcher with the Philadelphia
Phillies.

“A friend of mine told me I should
come watch him play,” Riddle said. “We
brought him up to St. Louis and signed
him for a real moderate bonus. He didn’t
want to go to (college). He was in the
major leagues after about a year, so it was
definitely a steal.”

In total, Riddle spent 24 years with the
organization, but it didn’t deter him from
what he cherished the most - his family
life.

“My wife was a school teacher during
the year,” Riddle said. “In the summer,
she rolled the children up and brought
them where I was. We would all be
together in the summer.”

In 1978, Riddle embarked on what he
called the best move of his life.

He was contacted by officials from
what was then called Troy State University
about taking over the head coaching
job and bringing the baseball program to
a high level like other sports. Riddle, 53 at
the time, decided it was worth thinking
about.

“I told them if things were right, I may
do it,” Riddle said. “But I was tired of
traveling. I met my love here in Troy and
this was an opportunity to settle down
and get off the road some.”

When he took charge of the program,
the conditions left a lot to be desired.

“They hadn’t put any emphasis on
baseball,” Riddle said. “The ball park was
terrible. There was a wire fence around
the park and it was dangerous. We had
wooden bleachers that burned. But we
had the best fans of any place that would
ever watch baseball. We’d go on the road
and they would follow us.

“We started winning and we got support.
It was a gradual thing, but it turned
out being the best move I ever made,
other than marrying my wife.”

It took eight years for Riddle to bring
home a Division II national championship
to Troy. The Trojans actually won back-toback
titles in 1986 and 1987, also winning
five conference championships and six
regional championships.

“We had been to the College World
Series but couldn’t get over the hump
there,” Riddle said. “I brought in some
better people, but came to realize that it all
boils down to good pitching and defense.
We built our pitching staff up and when
we got there, we found out we could play
with these people.”

A one-out, ninth-inning grand slam by
Wendell Stephens led Troy State to a 8-6
victory over Mankato State in the CWS
opener in 1986. Ace Mike Perez fired a
one-hit shutout over Columbus College to
bring home the trophy. In 1987, when it
looked like Troy State didn’t have a hope
of repeating, the Trojans reeled off 15
straight wins to end the season. Pitcher
James Wray earned first-team All-America
honors, firing four straight shutouts at
one point of the season. First baseman
Jude Rinaldi set a school record with a
.431 batting average and led the squad
with 16 home runs and 45 runs batted in.

“When you look at the guys’ faces and
check out their reactions when you win it
all, it just says a lot,” Riddle said. “It’s one
heck of a feeling and reactions are still
there when we talk about it.”

Riddle retired from coaching in 1990 —
something he planned on doing all along.

“I told myself and my wife that when I
hit the ripe old age of 65, I was calling it
quits win, lose, or draw,” Riddle said. “I
wanted to go fishing and stay home and
be with my wife and family.”

The ultimate honor came after he
retired, when the school decided to retire
Riddle’s No. 25 coaching jersey and name
the baseball stadium after him. Riddle-
Pace Field on the campus of Troy University,
after renovations over the years, is
one of the nicer facilities in the Southeast.

“When they told me they were going to
do this, I told them they were going to
watch a grown man cry,” Riddle said.
“The ceremony was a little more than I
could handle.”

The second ultimate honor has come
over the course of several years. While
Riddle is fond of the championships won
at Troy, he holds an even greater place in
his heart for the people that rode the train
with him and Troy State baseball — players
and coaches alike.

“There’s a group of about 12 of them,”
Riddle said. “I can’t name them off the top
of my head right now, but about 12 of
them all named their son Chase. I can’t
help but think I didn’t do anything to
deserve it, but it still happened.”

Baseball remains Riddle’s life. You can
find him behind home plate at every Trojan
home baseball game and even at a few
high school games. But even now he
thinks about how life was when he was a
student at Troy State, residing in Pace
Hall, a dormitory located by the baseball
field.

“I never thought I’d do anything on
that field other than play a little football
with some friends,” Riddle said. “To think
about all I was able to be a part of, it was outstanding.

Chase Riddle passes away



Legendary former Troy baseball coach Chase Riddle has passed away at age 85. (Troy University photo, after a championship celebration in 1986).

I'm working on a story at the moment, and Ken Rogers is working on a column for Tuesday. Riddle coached at Troy from 1979-90 and the Trojans won a pair of Division II national championships (1986-87).

When you think about Troy baseball, you think about Chase Riddle. HERE is the school's release.

We'll add more later

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Troy in good shape after draft

I thought Tyler Ray and Tyler Hannah would get drafted. They did not. They should have been, but what will probably happen is that they'll get picked in the first 20 rounds next year and sign for cheap, because teams can sign seniors for cheap. Adam Bryant was drafted in the ninth round money, but since he has no leverage, he'll sign for less than that.

But it leaves Troy in good shape for next year. Let's take a look.

INFIELD - Look for Hannah to move to short. Troy will probably have a signee, JUCO transfer Blake Barber at second. My guess is that Logan Pierce remains at first, though he's versatile enough to play C or 3B and has an excellent glove. I'm also thinking Troy signed Danny Collins, who hit .419 with 11 HRs and 56 RBIs as a freshman at NW Florida State JUCO (with the new bats) to be the third baseman and No. 3 or 4-hole hitter. Great sign by the Trojans as he'll be just a sophomore. Kyle Brown, a rising sophomore, could play first or DH.

Not sure there's a whole lot of infield depth, but that's without me studying all the names.

CATCHER - Looks like the top two would be a pair of newcomers, JUCO transfer Brandon Brown and freshman Jake Harrell. Blake Martz, a returning senior, could play here.

OUTFIELD - Lots of depth here. Tyson Workman and Boone Shear need to hit like they did in the last few weeks for Troy to be good. Ali Knowles, Hayden Hillyer and Josh McDorman got a lot of experience. Jo-El Bennett was the signee that was drafted in the 11th round by the Pirates, so my guess is he's headed to play pro ball, but we'll see. He's a heck of a player. I've been told that redshirt freshman Clay Holcomb has turned some heads. And I'm also sure I'm leaving out a few names.

PITCHER - Where to start? Looks like the entire rotation is back. Tyler Ray will be hard-pressed to top a 12-0, 2.38 ERA. Jimmy Hodgskin needs to make improvement to where he's a guy pitching into the 7th each time out. Hopefully Ryan Sorce, Garrett McHenry and Shane McCain can bounce back from late-season injuries. Drew Hull will have to apply for a 5th year, and even if he gets it, probably wouldn't be fully ready to go until late in the year. A back-end combo of Nate Hill and Tyson Workman is as good as it gets, and they'll get some help from returning players and JUCO signee Joe Hernandez. Don't forget about Thomas Austin, who got much better at the end of the season and was really good in the regional. The hope is that William Teal and Chris Fisher will be more effective next year as juniors, since Tommy John surgery will be more in their rear view mirror. I think Adam Purdy was a quality JUCO signee.

I know I'm leaving out some names, but in my opinion, Troy's going to hit. How successful a season it could be will depend on the health of the pitchers and how they develop throughout the season. With a fully healthy Hull, McCain, McHenry and Sorce and this team's probably a 2 seed in a regional with a chance to win one.

There were four, maybe five guys who were healthy that coaches counted on at the end. For the Trojans to make that next step and win a regional, the arms will have to be good and stay healthy.

OF NOTE - I probably won't be able to update the blog until next week. Lucky me, I get to go to my wife's 10-year high school reunion this weekend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bryant drafted by Twins

Shortstop Adam Bryant, Troy's all-time hits leader, was just picked in the 9th round (pick 298) by the Minnesota Twins.

Outfielder Jo-El Bennett was just picked in the 11th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates at pick no. 332.

More to come

7 p.m. EDIT - HERE is the link to the story on Bryant getting drafted by the Twins.

HERE is a link to the story our prep writer David Mundee did on a couple of our local high school talents getting drafted - both to the same team. One of those is Troy signee Jo-El Bennett.

Baseball lookahead

HERE is what I wrote for today's paper on looking ahead a little bit to the draft and next year.

Round 2 of the MLB Draft starts around 11 a.m. The draft ends tomorrow.

Names to watch, and I could be forgetting or overlooking some

**Tyler Ray (RHP) - junior
**Tyler Hannah (IF) - junior
**Adam Bryant (IF) - senior
**Jo-El Bennett (OF) - high school signee from Houston Academy
**Adam Purdy (RHP) - JUCO signee. I don't know much about him or how he did this year, but he was drafted out of high school before going to Auburn for a year.

I think all of those guys will get drafted. Bryant is the only one who has finished his eligibility, so there will be some decisions to be made. Bear in mind, I thought it was a sure thing Bryant would get drafted last summer (he didn't), so my opinion doesn't count for much.

I'll update as I can throughout the next couple of days.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Season comes to an end

Troy lost 5-2 to Belmont in the Nashville regional. Story HERE.

**Despite the fan sentiment that no Troy team should ever lose to Belmont in any sport, this was a great season. Basically, it ended when Troy lost to Vanderbilt as no team was going to beat Vanderbilt out of the loser's bracket, but the Trojans just couldn't get the timely hit at the right time. Belmont's not bad - Troy is the better team, and would win 8 out of 10 times, but tonight was one of those 2. Troy had a lot of guys with heart and good leadership, but Vandy was just too talented of a buzz saw. If Hannah's ball is 10 feet to the left and Troy wins, the game next up vs. Vandy could have been ugly because there was no pitching left, it seems.

**What kept Troy from being great and a high 2-seed was the lack of pitching depth. They had that, but some guys got hurt. Drew Hull was lost for the season with an elbow injury. Garrett McHenry was pretty good early but he got hurt. Shane McCain and Ryan Sorce were key starters early, and they had some arm pain or dead arm late. William Teal and Chris Fisher were not able to get fully in pitching shape after Tommy John surgery, but the hope is that they will next year.

**The MLB Draft starts Monday, but just the first round. Rounds 2-30 are Tuesday and the rest on Wednesday. Going to be interesting to see with underclassmen Tyler Ray and Tyler Hannah and where they get picked and what kind of offers. Troy could lose them both possibly. Hannah, if he's back, will be Troy's shortstop next season and could be the difference between Troy being good and Troy being great. Adam Bryant should get drafted, but he was a senior. The top prep prospect is Houston Academy (Dothan) outfielder Jo-El Bennett.

***I'll look more into next year in the next couple of days.

Troy-Belmont updates (Troy eliminated)



1:30 p.m. - Troy facing Belmont in an elimination game in 30 minutes. Trojans are pitching Ryan Sorce (LHP, 5-4, 5.23 ERA). Need a good outing out of him and, most of all, Trojans need to score some runs.

Belmont's pitcher is Nate Woods, at 6-5 with a 6.44 ERA, looks like he can be hit around a little bit. If Troy can get to Vanderbilt without having to use Tyson Workman on the mound, the chances improve. But Sorce hasn't pitched well of late. He's ready and confident, though.

Troy is starting Jacob Dixon at catcher. He has just one start, but they're hoping to play a doubleheader today and not have McRae catch both games.

1:45 p.m. - Got some lightning in the area and they're putting the tarp out in anticipation of some rain. We won't be starting at 2, that's for sure.

3:19 p.m. - First pitch will be at 4 p.m.

END 1 - Not much going for either team. But I'll pass along that the 2nd game will start at 7 p.m. as scheduled or 50 minutes after this game's completion. I'll guess the latter.

END 2 - The Sorce that dominated the first didn't show up in the second. He gave up a single, walk, single, RBI single and was pulled for Austin. First guy off Austin got a 2-run single, but a runner thrown out at third, then a nice double play. Trojans aren't looking good at the plate. Belmont 3, Troy 0

END 3 - Nothing of note. Still Belmont 3, Troy 0.

END 4 - Must mention Daniel Peterson's outstanding catch. Sprinted to his right, dove full extension, laid out and made the catch. Austin's doing well on the mound. Belmont 3B Zac Mitchell responded with a great defensive play of his own, robbing Adam Bryant of a double. Troy loaded the bases with 2 outs, but Dixon hit into a fielder's choice to end it. Belmont 3, Troy 0.

END 5 - Troy had runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs but Bryant flied out. Still 3-0.

END 6 - Tyler Hannah made one of the best defensive plays I've ever seen. Sharp grounder to him at third, he tags the guy trying to dive back. Then he's able to flip it over to first to complete the double play. Rivera led off with a double and Belmont went to reliever Blake Harvey. Shear singled, Pierce struck out. McRae drove in a run with a single, but Hillyer hit into a double play. Belmont 3, Troy 1.

END 7 - Workman came on in the 7th with 0 outs and got out of a big jam. Austin tied a career-high with 5 IP, and did a great job keeping Troy in the game.

Troy got 2 on to lead off the 7th. Tried for a double steal and Workman thrown out (bunt was on pitch low and Hannah pulled back). Hannah then singled in a run to make it 3-2. Bryant singled. Rivera lined out to center and Shear grounded out. Belmont 3, Troy 2.

END 8 - Bases loaded for Hannah and he drilled it to the wall, the crease in the LCF wall, LF jumps up and catches it for out 3. Belmont 3, Troy 2

MID 9 - Belmont scored a pair of 2-out runs. Now lead 5-2

FINAL - Troy falls 5-2. Season over at 43-19. More to come

Saturday, June 4, 2011

On to Sunday

Trojans fell 10-2 to Vanderbilt. It wasn't as bad as the score indicated, but Vanderbilt's a really good team that makes you pay when you make mistakes.

My game story is HERE.

It details a few of the mistakes - no sense in rehashing them because all of it won't matter at 2:01 p.m.

Troy will play Belmont at 2 p.m. My best guess is Ryan Sorce gets the start, and they'll need more than the 2-3 innings they've been getting out of him.

But, Troy should be able to pounce on what pitching Belmont has left. The Bruins barely qualified for the A-Sun Tournament as the 6-seed and won it. The A-Sun isn't that strong of a league, and Belmont's top 2 starters have thrown.

Beyond that? Well like coach Bobby Pierce said - one game at a time, one pitch at a time.

Some good things to look at:
Senior Daniel Peterson had 2 hits and made a great catch at the CF fence. Troy folks were hoping that would be an ESPN Top 10 play. It was a heck of a catch. Right now I'm watching Baylor and Missouri in the WCWS in the 13th inning.

Tyler Hannah made two great plays on grounders - one a bunt - to throw VU guys out. I don't know what pro scouts think of him, but I'm wondering if he'll get drafted and get an offer good enough to sign. He's certainly good enough.

Troy falls to Vanderbilt




5:30 p.m. - I got here about an hour and a half ago, long enough to see Belmont hold on for dear life and eliminate Oklahoma State, 3-2.

Belmont took a shutout to the ninth, but walked in 2 runs. With 1 out and the bases loaded, a double play ended the game. It was the first Division I postseason win by Belmont.

Tonight's loser of Troy and Vanderbilt plays Belmont tomorrow at 2 p.m. in an elimination game. Tonight's winner is sitting pretty in the championship game and would have to be beaten twice, starting tomorrow night at 7. An if-necessary championship would be at 6 p.m. Monday.

Troy is the home team tonight. I'll be back with more updates.

6:37 p.m. - Troy's lineup goes like this - Workman/Hannah/Bryant/Rivera/Shear/McRae/Pierce/Martz/Peterson, with Jimmy Hodgskin pitching.

END 1 - Hodgskin got Vandy 1-2-3. Workman led off with a single, was forced out at 2nd. Trojans could have had something, but Hannah tried to steal 2nd and was thrown out. Bryant then flew out. 0-0.

END 2 - Troy turned a nice 4-6-3 DP in the top of the 2nd, but went down in order in the bottom. Still 0-0.

END 3 - Vandy got a run in the top of the third on a bases loaded sac fly. Line shot right to Hannah got out of it. Hodgskin walked 2, and the first one (leadoff walk) scored. Tough lineup the freshman's got to face. Troy got a 2-out bunt single from Peterson, but a strikeout ended the threat. VU 1, Troy 0.

END 4 - Troy got a clutch 2-out, 2-run RBI single from Todd McRae, Trojans lead 2-1. Hannah and Bryant singled to lead off, Rivera bunted them over, Shear struck out looking, but McRae, as dependable as they come on and off the field, did his job.

END 5 - VU took the lead with 3 in the top of the 4th. A HBP and BB led to Nate Hill coming in. Bunted the over. Kemp, VU's little speedster, hit a grounder up the middle that Rivera knocked down, but he threw wildly home and 2 scored, and Kemp took third. A sac fly scored Kemp to make it 4-2. Troy got a 2-out walk, but didn't score. VU 4, Troy 2.

END 6 - Nothing for VU except a 2-out single in the top. Troy led off with E1 (should have been scored infield hit) and another single by Rivera. Shear called out on a pitch that was called a ball the pitch before, then McRae hits into a taylor-made 4-6-3 DP. VU 4-2

END 7 - Not much for VU in top. Troy had a 2-out rally. Peterson singled and stole second. Workman reached on an E5. VU went to Will Clinard in the pen to face Hannah. Hannah grounded out to the pitcher. VU 4, Troy 2.

MID 8 - VU got 2 with 2 outs in the top of the 8th. Yaz got a ball that landed just inside the line, looked like Workman took a bad angle and it ended up being a triple. After an intentional walk, Gregor singled in 2 runs. VU 6, Troy 2

END 8 - Troy went 1-2-3. Still 6-2 VU.

MID 9 - VU torched Nick Ward after he walked a couple. Westlake with a 3-run homer. Casali with a solo shot. Austin came in after that. 10-2 VU

FINAL Troy loses 10-2, plays Belmont at 2 p.m. Sunday in an elimination game. Winner plays Vandy at 7 p.m. later Sunday, has to beat the Dores twice. That if-necessary game would be Monday at 6.

It's official: Troy vs. Vanderbilt



That's the video from the VUCommodores site of Troy's press conference after the win over Oklahoma State. It's pretty long but it's worth a view.

This is the biggest game for Troy since it played Alabama in the winner's bracket final of the 2006 regional. Trojans lost that one in the bottom of the ninth.

Vanderbilt beat Belmont 10-0. You can read more from Vandy's rivals site HERE.

Vanderbilt will throw left-hander Grayson Garvin (12-1, 2.38) against Troy's freshman left-hander, Jimmy Hodgskin (3-6, 4.56).

I just saw an inning of Vandy's win over Belmont. It was all I needed to see. The Commodores can hit 1 through 9, but they're still looking for that first trip with coach Tim Corbin to the College World Series.

The best chance came in 2007. A guy named Alan Oaks from Michigan made sure that wouldn't happen.

Who will be Troy's Alan Oaks?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some postgame notes/quotes and gamer



AP Photo/Adam Bryant connects on a hit early in Troy's 9-2 win over OSU.

HERE is my game story.

***Trojans handled Oklahoma State, especially in the latter 2/3 of the game. To me, the most impressive thing is that they looked like a team that had been there before, when in fact they had not. Logan Pierce made some really fine plays at first to turn some 3-6-3 double plays, two of them, and Adam Bryant made some great plays at short. Troy did not make an error. OSU had two.

***Tyler Hannah got the big bases-clearing triple in the 8th to make it 7-2 and pretty much end it. Coach Bobby Pierce got to tell the media who were from Nashville the story about Hannah coming to Troy after spending a semester at Tennessee. Troy liked Hannah in JUCO, but didn't recruit him because they had Adam Bryant. Hannah wanted to leave UT and quit playing baseball, but one of Hannah's high school coaches convinced him not to give it up, and the rest is history. (My story HERE from earlier this year).

"He's one of the best walk-ons we've ever had," Pierce said.

***OSU had a surprise starter in Hunter Herrera, who pitched in relief last week. Coach Frank Anderson said normal ace Mike Strong had some tenderness in his elbow and No. 2 starter Brad Propst is fatigued at the end of the year. Herrera pitched well through the lineup the first time until the Trojans got to him.

***Tyson Workman has a cut on his pitching hand after slamming into the wall to make a catch down the 1B foul line, but the hope is that he's OK.

**They feel that Jimmy Hodgskin needs to get into the 5th for them to feel good. I think he's got to go a little further than that.

Troy plays the current Vanderbilt/Belmont winner at 7 p.m. Saturday

Troy-OSU updates (Troy wins 9-2)



Here at Hawkins Field at Vandy. OSU pulled a little surprise, not throwing their top guy and going with righty Hunter Herrera (3-1, 3.76 ERA). Looks good so far, as he got a strikeout and two weak grounders to get Troy 1-2-3 in the first.

END 1 - OSU got 2 hits, but no runs. Adam Bryant made a big-time play at SS, then after a single, Boone Shear threw out Dane Phillips at home. 0-0.

END 2 - OSU struck first on a solo homer from Luis Uribe over the LCF wall. Lead Troy 1-0.

END 3 - OSU now leads 2-0. Shines led off with a double to RF - looked like Workman misplayed it a little bit. He scores on a high pop up down RF line that Rivera at 2B never could find. Troy gets out of it with a beautiful 3-6-3 DP started by Pierce.

END 4 - Troy got a run in the 4th, infield single by McRae (yes, really) scores Bryant from third. Ray got 1-2-3 in the bottom. 2-1 OSU.

END 5 - Not much going on for either team in the fifth. Still 2-1 OSU. Troy has 3-4-5 due up.

END 6 - Troy broke through, got 3 in the top. Rivera singled in a run, Hillyer singled in a run and a bases loaded BB.

END 7 - Troy still leads 4-2. Logan Pierce turned his second 3-6-3 double play.

END 8 - Trojans blew it open with 2 outs. Hannah tripled in 3 off the wall in right. Later, Rivera doubled in 2. With 2 on and 2 out in the 8th, Nate Hill relieved Tyler Ray and got the out. Troy now leads 9-2.

FINAL - Troy wins 9-2. Tyler Ray is 12-0. TJ Rivera went 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs.

Regional time

I'm in Nashville tonight ready for Troy's regional.

HERE is what I wrote, most of it coming from a quick chat with Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson.

9 a.m. EDIT - Here are some more links.

Three players were named Louisville Slugger All-Americans. Third baseman Tyler Hannah made the first team, pitcher Tyler Ray the second team and shortstop Adam Bryant was a third-teamer. More HERE.

For Oklahoma State, it's a chance to start over from the Oklahoman. I've thought Troy was catching OSU at a good time, but these guys know how to come in and win regionals. Everybody's 0-0 at this point.

From VandySports.com, a Vanderbilt capsule.

From the Tennessean, ex-teammates square off when Vandy and Belmont play the 7 p.m. game.

Also, a notebook.

Free live-streaming webcasts from all games of the Nashville Regional are available through vucommodores.com.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday baseball links

Here are some links as I get ready to head up to Nashville to cover the regional. They are having a press conference this afternoon, but I won't be able to make it in time.

HERE is a feature on freshman pitcher Jimmy Hodgskin that I wrote.

From the Oklahoman, HERE is a story on OSU right fielder Luis Uribe.

From VandySports.com, a preview on Oklahoma State and one on Troy.

HERE is a story on Vanderbilt captain Bryan Johns from the Tennessean.

Also, a story on Belmont's head coach.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday baseball links

HERE is a feature I wrote on Troy freshman outfielder Hayden Hillyer, who will be counted on a lot this weekend despite breaking his toe last Wednesday.

I keep thinking Troy is really catching OSU at a good time for the Trojans. OSU has lost 10 of 14, and the Cowboys are talented, but the pitching staff has struggled of late, especially away from home.

HERE is a story on that staff. I'm guessing Troy sees ace Mike Strong, who has been dominant at home but not so much on the road. If it's No. 2 pitcher Brad Propst, he's 0-3 in May. Here's a good reason why, from the story.

"Strong and Propst, they’ve probably hit an inning amount that puts them in the upper limits of how many innings they’ve thrown in their career in a year," OSU coach Frank Anderson said. "As most people do, they probably were wearing down a little bit."



From the Vanderbilt rivals site, a preview on Belmont.