Martin's walk off gives Troy 6-5 win over NEB.
By: Chris Manning | Towanda Daily Review | May 24, 2018
By: Chris Manning | Towanda Daily Review | May 24, 2018
EAST TROY — Somebody was going to be a hero. That much was evident as Northeast Bradford and Troy came down to the wire. The only question was who.
And in the bottom of the seventh with two strikes Troy's Nate Martin answered that question.
Martin's shot into the left-center gap scored teammate Tyler Williams to give the Trojans the 6-5 walk-off win in District IV, Class AA baseball quarterfinal action Wednesday.
"It felt good," Martin said about getting that hit. "It was exciting. I envisioned myself hitting it and I got it done."
First year coach Kevin Allen was relieved to see his team pull it out.
"It's a good win," he said. "It definitely gave us a heart attack. This is a good win and this is my first season with the team and we're going to the second round of districts so it's a good feeling."
Getting it done was Martin's mantra Wednesday as the senior went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored on the day.
But he saved his best for last — a shot that was likely a double if it didn't end the game.
"Definitely it was a good hit," Martin described. "I didn't feel it off the bat so you know that's good."
Just an inning before, though, it looked like the Panthers were going to be the ones celebrating, using a four-run sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead.
"We knew that we had to keep our heads in the game," said Martin. "We couldn't get down. We were hitting the ball but we left a lot of people on but we knew we could do it."
It was just that kind of game, one where the Trojans could lead 15 runners on base and still come out on top.
"We were kind of shooting ourselves in the foot," Allen said. "It was good to finally get them in when we needed them."
Troy's Tyler Williams started and went the first 4 2/3-innings to allow eight hits but didn't hurt himself by issuing no walks.
"I felt good going in," Williams said. "I only threw 70 but I had good defense in the back so that helped a lot."
He struck out five and the Panthers only got one run out of those eight hits.
"He's been our go to guy all year," Allen said about Williams. "He pitched one heck of a game earlier against Wellsboro, the number one seed in the district, he shut them down, so it's good to see him come back and throw the way he did."
Even with a low pitch count, though, the heat took its toll on Williams.
"It's hot," he remarked.
Ja Wallace scored in the first inning to give Troy a 1-0 early lead.
That run held up until the bottom of the fourth when Wallace scored again on an error off the bat of Michael Borden to make it 2-0 Trojans.
NEB finally broke through in the top of the fifth when Ian Wilbur scored on a Nick Vrabel single to cut it to 2-1.
Then came the top of the sixth when the Panthers found their offense.
After Williams left, Clark Jackson came on to pitch and NEB had more success scoring against him.
Max Cooper and Collin Allis led off the inning with walks. After stealing their way into scoring position, Braeden Frisbie drove home Cooper and Spencer Jackson (Allis' pinch runner) to put the Panthers up 3-2 with no outs.
Frisbie took second on a play at home.
Clarkson came back with two straight strikeouts but a Tyler Devonshire walk kept the inning going.
Vrabel then singled in Frisbie to make it 4-2.
Then showing off some of the moxie that got them to the playoffs Vrabel induced a pickle with Troy's defense.
As the Trojans were trying to get him out, Devonshire ran home. Troy was able to tag Vrabel out but not before Devonshire touched home, putting NEB up 5-2 and just six outs away from a road playoff win.
Troy came back in the bottom of the sixth as with one out Micheal Borden reached on an error followed by Martin singling. Brandon Zechman walked to load the bases.
That's when Bailey Cohick came through, getting a two-out single to score Borden and Martin and cut the deficit to a single run.
After a strikeout it looked like Jackson was going to have an infield hit to keep the rally alive.
However, he was called out on a close play at first and the Panthers retained the lead.
In the top of the seventh Troy called upon Mason Bellows, who shut down NEB 1-2-3.
Wallace led off the bottom half of the inning with a single but Grant Allis, who had come on in relief in the sixth, struck out Nick Colton but Wallace reached second on a steal.
Williams then hit a hard ground ball up the middle that looked like it was going to easily score Wallace but Vrabel made a diving stop, keeping it in the infield.
Williams reached on the infield hit but Wallace was stuck at third and NEB still led.
But Borden was able to finish the job, hitting a ground ball to the first baseman. He was put out at first but Wallace scored his third run of the day, knotting it at 5-all.
Williams reached second but the Panthers were one out away from getting out of the inning and sending the game into extras.
That's when Martin stepped to the plate and the rest was history.
"I just wanted to stay confident," he said. "I wasn't worried, I stayed confident and believed in myself."
Wallace was 2-for-3 to go with his three runs while Cohick (2-for-3) and William Dibble (2-for-3) also had multi-hit games for the Trojans. Williams was 1-for-4.
Bellows got the win, allowing just a hit in his one inning of work. Jackson pitched 1 1/3-innings between Williams and Bellows, striking out two with one hit, two walks and four runs, one of them earned.
Four different Panthers had multi-hit games.
Wilbur (2-for-3), Vrabel (2-for-4), Clayton Connor (2-for-4) and Frisbie (2-for-3) had two hits each. Vrabel also had a double on the day.
Devonshire and Cooper both went 1-for-3.
Vrabel started and was solid in his 3 1/3-innings of action. He had one strikeout but allowed four hits, one walk and one unearned run.
Lucas Crown came on for six pitches, five of which were balls, and was replaced by Wilbur. Wilbur went two innings to strike out two while allowing two hits, three walks and two runs, one of which was earned.
Allis went the final 1 1/3-innings for the loss, striking out two with four hits and two earned runs.
For NEB this was a game that slipped through their fingers.
They left eight runners on base, not as many as Troy but still a big number, and had six errors in the field.
They also had their share of big plays in the field — including a nice running catch in deep left field by Cooper and Vrabel's run saving dive in the seventh — but just ran out of steam in Troy's final two at bats.
As for Troy the game was much like their season. They started the year 7-0, then went 2-7 before finishing the year in a 3-0 sprint.
Now on a four-game winning streak, the Trojans hope they've found their early season form as they look to make a deep run late in the year.
"We're hoping for the 7-0," Allen optimistically remarked about which team would be getting on the bus Friday. "It's good to get our stride back and hopefully we're back to where we were in the early season."
Getting hits when they need them will be a focus in the short time Troy has before they travel to South Williamsport Friday for the 4:30 p.m. start.
"We need to work on our hitting," said Williams.
Regardless, he expects another competitive game.
"They have a good team, we have a good team," he remarked. "It's going to be a battle."