By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
CASSTOWN — After two straight narrow defeats, the Troy baseball team needed to get back track.
Miami East wasn’t about to make it easy, though.
Still, thanks to another solid outing by starting pitcher Ethan West and an explosive day at the plate by Cole Brogan, the Trojans snapped a two-game losing streak, topping the host Vikings 4-1 Monday at Miami East High School in non-league action.
“First of all, hats off to (Miami East). Those guys came out and played a great game,” Troy coach Ty Welker said. “Those guys came out to compete, and they did that.”
And while the Trojans improved to 8-3 on the season, Miami East — which split a doubleheader against a quality Madison team on Saturday and entered the game having won four of its last five games — fell to 7-8 on the year.
“We just came off beating the No. 4 team in the state (Madison), and we’re playing real well,” Miami East coach Dean Denlinger said. “Troy is playing real well right now, too, though. We’re playing a pretty tough schedule — I think we’re playing seven teams ranked in the state, and we have a solid conference, too.”
In the end, though, Troy’s West turned in yet another solid Monday outing — only this time he got credit for it. Two weeks ago, he had to watch the bullpen be unable to hold a lead in a 4-3 loss at Greenville, and last Monday he left the game before the Trojans rallied in the seventh to claim a 4-3 win at Sidney.
“Ethan has thrown a great game the last two Mondays, as well — he just hasn’t gotten the victory for them,” Welker said. “He finally got the win for it. He’s done a nice job. He’s pitched with confidence, and he wants the ball. All of the things we needed to see out of him this year, he’s done. What a great performance by him today.”
Monday, West was on his game yet again, pitching six innings and allowing only one run on three hits, three walks and a hit-batter while striking out nine. Matt Bigley pitched a one-two-three seventh, striking out two to earn a save.
“Ethan West pitched a good game,” Denlinger said. “He had good control, and we stranded nine runners, so that didn’t help. We haven’t struck out more than six times in a game all season, but we did 11 times today. Ethan just had good control and kept us off balance.”
And this time, West got run support from the start, too.
In the top of the first, Brogan ripped a one-out double to the deepest part of the field in center and moved to third on an infield single by Jacob Adams. Braeden Snider then hit an RBI sac fly to center, putting Troy on top 1-0. And in the second, Sam Shaneyfelt reached on an error to lead off, Nathan Henderson walked, both runners moved up on a wild pitch and Grant Gariety drove in a run with an RBI groundout to make it a 2-0 game.
Brogan finished the game 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI, driving in pinch hitter Luke Severt with a two-out single for an insurance run in the sixth inning that gave the Trojans a 3-1 lead at the time. And the Trojans cashed in a leadoff double by Snider in the top of the seventh, with Bigley ripping a two-out RBI double down the third-base line that made the score 4-1.
“Cole’s been swinging better,” Welker said. “We moved him up in the lineup, and he’s been hitting the ball on a line more and less in the air.”
Still, it wasn’t a great day for the Trojans at the plate, as they left a total of 11 runners on base — nine of those in scoring position — and left the bases loaded twice. Adams was the only other Trojan with multiple hits, going 2 for 4.
“We had four productive at-bats with guys in scoring position … out of 17,” Welker said. “We expect more out of ourselves. Strikeouts looking, strikeouts swinging, ground balls to the pull side — too many at-bats, 13 out of 17, that were not productive. That’s not a sign of a good team. We have to change that. But we keep working. These guys are smart, they know what they’ve got to do and we’ve just got to execute.”
Miami East got its run in the second inning. Gage Butz drew a walk to lead off, and a hit-and-run single by Hunter Gross put runners on the corners with no one out. Jonah Wolf hit an RBI groundout to cut Troy’s lead in half to 2-1 at the time, but West buckled down and got out of the jam — and a few more on the day, too. Of the nine runners the Vikings left stranded, six were in scoring position, and West worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning with no damage done.
Alex Hayes had the Vikings’ lone extra-base hit, a double, an none of the Vikings had multiple hits on the day. Starting pitcher Ian Gengler pitched well, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks while striking out six in four innings, Hayes pitched two innings and allowed one run on two hits and three walks with one strikeout and Garrett Lemaster allowed one run on two hits and a walk with one strikeout in the seventh inning.
“We had a couple of squeeze opportunities that we didn’t perform on, a couple times we weren’t focused. But the kids have been working hard, and they’re getting better every day,” Denlinger said.
Troy returns home to host Centerville in another non-league game Tuesday, while Miami East travels to Covington for a Cross County Conference matchup Tuesday.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.