TROY — With Troy junior Andrew Helman and Tippecanoe senior Matt Salmon taking the mound Thursday night in a high school baseball matchup at the Market Street diamond in Troy — there was no doubt runs were going to be at a premium against two of the top pitchers in the MVL.
And that is exactly the way it played out.
Troy was able to get two runs and that was enough in a 2-0 victory to split the season series with Tipp.
Troy improved to 13-3 overall and 9-2 in the MVL, while Tipp dropped to 12-6 overall and 7-4 in the MVL.
“It was as advertised,” Troy baseball coach Ty Welker said. “I was thinking it would be a 1-0, 2-0 game and that is exactly the way it turned out.”
Tippecanoe coach Bryan Gronski was not surprised either.
“I think the difference between this and Tuesday (Tipp’s win over Troy), is they got a couple of big hits when they needed it and we didn’t,” he said. “We got the big hits Tuesday and we didn’t tonight.”
For Helman, giving up a run is about as enjoyable as a trip to the dentist.
And it shows.
In 30 innings this season, Helman has allowed just two runs, one earned.
He was coming off one-hitting Butler for eight innings last week and hurled a five-hit shutout to run his record to 3-0 on the season.
He struck out seven batters the first time through the order and finished with 12 strikeouts and two walks, running his season total to 44 strikeouts and 10 walks.
“I just hate to give up a run,” Helman said. “I think I have finally figured out exactly what I need to do out there. And having Heath Murray as a pitching coach is certainly a big help. He knows exactly what pitch to call in every situation.”
Troy was able to get on the board in the second with an unearned run.
Eli Donnan reached on an error, stole second and scored on Connor Hutchinson’s two-out single.
“We did a good job running the bases tonight,” Welker said. “We didn’t have a lot of guys in scoring position tonight, but we had three hits in that situation which was probably three more than we had Tuesday.”
Tipp threatened to tie it in both the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, D.J Martin singled and went to third when Max Dunaway hit a line drive off Helman’s thigh.
“Andrew (Helman) is tough,” Welker said. “He took that ball of his thigh. He threw over 100 pitches, but he doesn’t ever want to come out.”
Helman got a strikeout to end the inning.
In the home fifth, Troy tried to add to the lead.
Nick Kawecki was on second base with two outs after singling. Hayden Frey drilled a single to center, but Braydon Bottles threw a strike to Martin at the plate to cut down Kaweicki and end the inning.
“That was (a big play),” Gronski said. “I was hoping it would give us some confidence,”
In the Tipp sixth, Landon Turner singled, Preston Zumwalt reached on an error and Matt Salmon walked to load the bases with one out.
Helman answered with two strikeouts against the 5-6 hitters to end the inning.
“That was huge,” Helman said.
“That was against a pretty strong part of the order,” he said. “We were all pretty calm in the dugout except Heath (Murray) who was a little nervous.”
In the Troy sixth, the Trojans got an insurance run.
Eli Smith singled, stole second and went to third on Eli Donnan’s single.
When the throw home got away, Smith scored to make it 2-0.
“Both runs could have easily been different if the ball had bounced a little different,” Gronski said. “It could have been 0-0 going to the eighth inning. We put some pressure on them in the fifth and sixth. We just couldn’t get the big hit.”
Tipp threatened in the seventh with two-out singles by Jaxon Hill and Bottles, before Helman preserved the shutout with a ground out.
Salmon pitched a six-hitter for Tipp, striking out four and not walking a batter.
In a game where both pitchers performed as advertised.