TROY — Eli Smith provided the punch.
And Andrew Helman and Jacob Lucas handled the pitching duties as Troy baseball advanced to the district semifinals for the first time since 2019 with a 3-0 win over Wayne.
Troy, seeded second, will host sixth seed Beavercreek in a district semifinal game at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Beavercreek knocked off Piqua 6-1 Thursday night.
“Two years ago, we won our first game and then we lost a game to Franklin that we had a good chance to win,” Troy baseball coach Ty Welker said. “Then last year, Sidney just outplayed us. So, this was a big win.”
And Welker is thankfull just to have his ace available for the postseason.
“Andrew pitched a great game tonight,” Welker said. “This is his first tournament action. He has been hurt for the postseason the last two years.”
Helman held Wayne without a hit through the first six innings, before things got interesting in the seventh.
Which is Lucas’ specialty.
Troy was leading 3-0, but an error, a base hit and walk loaded the bases with one out.
“It would have been nice to have Andrew (Helman) finish the game,” Welker said. “He pitched a one-hitter (with 12 strikeouts and one walk). But, Jacob (Lucas) is our closer. In that situation, we are going to go to him and I think Andrew understood that. I don’t think Jacob threw a single strike warming up. But, he is a competitor.”
And Lucas — as they say — did what he does.
He got a pop up that he caught and finished off the win with a strikeout.
“I enjoy those situations,” he said. “They had told me to be ready. Really, I didn’t look at that as any different from a league game. But, this is the first tournament win I have been part of. So, that is special.”
Smith had a big game at the plate, producing runs in his first two at bats.
“Eli (Smith) was overdue — he would probably tell you three years overdue,” Welker said with a laugh.
“It has been a long time coming,” he said.
He gave Troy the only run they would need in the second inning, with a homer to deep left-center field.
“He kind of hung the pitch and I was able it hit it out,” Smith said.
Welker said that was important.
“That was big (to get the first run),” he said.
Then in the fourth inning, Owen Harlamert singled, stole second and scored on a base-hit.
“A little opposite-field action,” Smith said. “I had to wait on it. I hung back on it and was able to get a hit. We just needed a hit in that situation to get the run in.”
Then the Trojans added a big insurance run in the sixth.
Caleb Akins walked and would come around to score on a base hit by Harlamert.
“We talked about it before the inning,” Welker said. “That we needed to get another run. If we don’t get that run, the tying run is on second with one out and the go-ahead run is on first in the seventh.”
Cole Neely pitched a five-hitter, with four strikeouts and two walks for Wayne, who dropped to 10-15 on the season.
“You have to give them a lot of credit,” Welker said. “It would have been easy for them hang their heads in the seventh and they didn’t.”
The Trojans will take a 21-7 record into Tuesday’s game with 17-10 Beavercreek — looking for a berth in the district title game.
You can reach Sports Editor Rob Kiser at [email protected]