Division I Team Of The Week: Week 4 - Troy
April 28, 2022
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Division I Team Of The Week: Week 4 - Troy
TROY - Four wins, including revenge for one of two losses all season, has Troy the Prep Baseball Report Division I Team of the Week.
“The strength of our team has been pitching,” explained veteran head coach Ty Welker.
That was evident this past week with opponents producing just seven hits in four games, highlighted by a combined no-hitter from three pitchers to go along with a one-hitter and four-hitter versus Sidney and a two-hitter against Vandalia-Butler, avenging a loss a week earlier.
“They’re always one of the top programs in the state and is always a big game for us in the conference and in general,” Welker said. “We didn’t play well against them the Friday before and we came back and saw the same pitcher. We scored three runs in the 11th.”
Freshman Hayden Frey opened the inning with a single and eventually scored before sophomore Caleb Akins produced a two-run single for the 3-0 win. Frey, a southpaw, pitched two innings to get the win with junior Andrew Helman giving up one hit in eight innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks.
“In my 27 years coaching that’s one of the best games I’ve been a part of,” Welker said.
Juniors Brian Allen, who threw a one-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 3-0 win over Sidney on Tuesday, and Trayce Mercer, who fanned nine in a four-hit 6-1 victory over Sidney on Friday, help form a solid 1-2-3 punch on the mound along with Helman for the state’s 10th-ranked D-I team. Helman is 2-0 with a 0.30 ERA, Allen 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA and Mercer 2-1 with a 3.28 ERA.
“All are competitors and when they locate and mix pitches well they’re tough to beat,” noted Welker, who has also received strong pitching from Akins and Frey en route to a 12-2 record entering play this week.
The infield is anchored on the left side by a pair of Division I commits. Ryder Kirtley, a sophomore recruited by Virginia Tech, is at shortstop with Connor Hutchinson, a junior going to Ball State, at third base.
One area of concern thus far for Welker has been at the plate where the Trojans were 4-36 with runners in scoring position this past week.
“We’ve had to rely on pitching and defense,” Welker said. “We’re only hitting .250 as a team. I surely hope we start hitting better.”
Frey has been the biggest surprise at the plate carrying a team-best .350 batting average.
“We’re a big school and don’t take many freshmen up to varsity because we don’t want to waste their year, but he’s hitting close to .400 and we’ve moved him into the two-hole,” Welker said of the left-handed-hitting ninth-grader who plays first base in addition to pitch.
Kirtley at .340, Owen Harlamert at .333 and Eli Donnan at .308 are the other leading hitters so far for Troy, which has two games with Tippecanoe, and matchups with Stebbins and St. Paris Graham on this week’s schedule.
“We returned six starters from last year and feel we’re a better offensive team than we’ve shown,” Welker said. “We’ve not been getting run production but we feel that it will still come. We just have to have a better approach at the plate. I’m happy where we’re at as a team, we’ve just got to hit better.”
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