Sophomore Cole Brogan starred on the mound and at the plate, while senior Hayden Kotwica had the two biggest hits of the day as Troy won its third straight game.
Troy—The Troy Trojans are starting to grow up.
Unfazed by a five-game losing streak that dropped their record to 1-6, the Trojans, with just 2 seniors in the starting lineup, won for the fourth time in 5 games, and for the third time in a row, beating Sidney 5-2 at breezy North Market Street Field Tuesday in a nifty one hour and 27 minutes.
“We knew we would have some growing pains, and we played a really strong schedule to start the season,” said Troy head coach Ty Welker, now in his 11th season with the Trojans. “We are starting to come around, not only in winning games, but doing the little things. We did that tonight.”
Hayden Kotwica led off the game with a homer, and finished the scoring with a two-out triple in the 6th, but the star of the game was unquestionably sophomore pitcher Cole Brogan.
Making his third start, Brogan silenced the Yellowjackets on 4 hits in picking up his second win. The right-hander recorded 14 ground-ball outs, and threw just 65 pitches in the complete game performance.
Afterwards, Brogan was a man of few words.
“Just trying to throw my fastball in the zone and let my defense work for me.” Brogan explained when asked what pitch was working. “Getting those runs early really helped. When my guys have my back, it makes my job a lot easier. Just trying to throw strikes as quickly as I can.”
“He throws a lot of ground-ball outs, but what makes him special is his tempo,” praised Welker. “We talk about that a lot. He gets the ball, he throws it. Our defense just plays with more confidence when he is on the mound. Hard to top 65 pitches in 7 innings. He’s done a nice job for us.
”He gets ahead in the count. He threw 8 first pitch strikes to the first ten hitters he faced, and that set the tempo. He gets ahead and then hitters have to hit his pitch instead of the other way around.”
Kotwica, who had three hits in the Trojans 6-3 win at Sidney Monday, drilled the first pitch he saw from Sidney right-hander Caleb Harris over the left-field fence to get the Trojans started.
“He is in a zone right now,” Welker said of his senior center-fielder. “Even the outs he made tonight were hit hard. We just leave him alone when he is hitting like that. He’s on a roll and it comes at a good time for us.”
“I was just looking for a first pitch strike,” Kotwica said in explaining his first homer of the season. “That’s what I always look for. Being the leadoff guy, I always look for that first-pitch fastball and that’s what I got.”
“I don’t really think about it. I just go up there and try to get a good pitch to hit. You see a good pitch and you swing at it.”
Later in the first, Brogan helped himself in a big way, drilling a base-hit over the third base bag to plate two runs and give Troy a 3-0 lead.
Sidney scored a run in the second on a fielder’s choice, but the Trojans got it back in the bottom half when Chase Weaver walked, went to second on a ground ball, and scored on Jake Daniel’s single.
Cole Hoffman hit a solo homer in the fourth to cut the Troy lead to 4-2, and threatened to get closer in the 6th. Austin McClain reached on an error and Harris singled to put two on with none out. Brogan was up to the challenge, getting a ground ball to the mound for a force at third, and another ground ball to third baseman Matt Bigley. Bigley, another sophomore, caught the ball behind the bag, won a race to third for the force-out, and made a difficult, off-balanced throw to first for a threat-ending double play.
Troy scored 5 runs on 6 hits, committed 2 errors, and left 7 on base. Sidney, which had scored just 21 runs in its first ten games, fell to 2-9 with 2 runs, four hits and an error. The Jackets stranded 3.
Kotwica said the 1-6 start did not concern him.
“I thought we would come around,” said the Trojans three-sport star. “We’ve gotten better. We started slow because everyone was questioning their role on the team. We are starting to come together, and you can see that on the field.”
Welker said there has been a fundamental difference in the Trojans over the past week.
“We are figuring out how to get things done. Early in the year, we didn’t do the little things. Now, we have a better approach at the plate. We aren’t there yet; we feel we should be scoring more runs. We are playing better defensively, and honestly, our schedule was very difficult at the beginning of the season. That has helped us improve as well.”
The Trojans opened a four-game winning streak with the win. Xenia visits Friday and Springfield Shawnee will be in town Saturday for Senior Day. Then comes the home and home showdown with division leading Vandalia Butler.
“We are looking forward to playing Butler next week,” enthused Kotwica. “Butler is a great program and we want to test ourselves against the best. That will tell us exactly how good we are and what we need to work on.”
Welker feels the future is bright for his ballclub.
“We start three or four sophomores a night and that is very unusual for me. But it bodes well for the future, not only the rest of this year but beyond. The kids never got down during that tough start. I knew we were going to be young, but I didn’t put that schedule together thinking we couldn’t handle it. These kids have big aspirations. They want to be one of the best teams in the Dayton area. We aren’t there yet, but they know what those teams look like and I really think that will help us grow.”