Troy loses heartbreaker to Franklin in D-I sectional baseball tournament


FRANKLIN — Troy baseball coach Ty Welker knows everyone will remember the Franklin sixth inning in Thursday’s 7-6 loss to the Wildcats at Franklin City Park as Franklin improved to 20-6 and Troy closed the season at 17-11.

What Welker will remember is everything seniors Caleb Fogarty, Nick Garber, Eli Otten, Zach Prouty, Ethan Rekow and Baylee Shepherd did to make this season a success for the Trojans.

“It was one terrible half inning,” Welker said about a Troy 5-1 lead disappearing when Franklin scored six runs after two were out. “We were a young team and it showed again. I feel terrible for the seniors and there is nothing I can say that will make them feel any better.

“But, people just see what happens on the field. They have no idea everything the seniors did to get us here with such a young team. Both on and off the field. Whether it was in the weight room or their leadership. I am really proud of these seniors.”

But, what transpired in Troy tournament win over West Carrollton Tuesday and what what happened in the first five innings Thursday showed just how far Troy came this season.

Troy went up 2-0 in the third when Eli Donnan walked, scored on Ryder Kirtley’s RBI double and Zach Prouty singled Kirtley in.

In the fifth, Troy scored two runs without a hit.

Kirtley reached on an error and scored from first on Prouty’s sacrifice bunt when the throw to third got away.

Then, Eli Smith walked, stole second and scored when the throw got past the outfielder.

Franklin got a run in the home fifth on the second of Casey Judy’s three doubles, but Troy got it back when pinch-runner Ethan Rekow scored on a wild pitch.

At the same time, Trace Mercer was rolling on the mound for the Trojans through five-plus innings for Troy, before Connor Hutchinson relieved him in the sixth with the score 5-2, two runners on and two outs.

“Trayce (Mercer) deserved to win the game,” Welker said. “It is always a tough decision when you take them out.”

The pitching change left Troy with new players at third base and right field as third baseman Caleb Fogarty moved to second where Hutchinson normally plays. Both the third baseman and right fielder would have errors as five straight Franklin batters reached base to give the Wildcats a 7-5 lead.

“Both our backups at second are injured, so I had to move Caleb (Fogarty) over,” Welker said. “We had two guys playing out of position and the ball found both of them.”

But, Troy tried to rally in the seventh.

Hutchinson was hit by a pitch and scored on Donnan’s single. The game ended with the tying run on second and the possible go-ahead run on first.

“We just didn’t give up,” Welker said. “We kept battling. Franklin is a really good team and we had a 5-1 lead on them at their place in the sixth inning. And we knocked their ace out of the game.”

Franklin had just five hits off Mercer, before finishing with nine.

Mercer had eight strikeout, a walk and two hit batters.

Evan Fry, Jordan Hirsher and Judy combined on a five-hitter for Franklin, striking out four, walking five and hitting a batter.

Welker didn’t get the ending the Trojans had hoped for — but, he knows that one half inning didn’t change the season or what his seniors did to make it possible.

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