Both teams made their big splashes in the middle innings — with Carrollton scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth and Pope countering with a six-spot in the top of the fifth — but it was the Trojans who struck last, plating a pair of runs without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the fifth for the decisive scores.
“It was a great atmosphere and a great game. Anytime you beat a program like Pope that won a [Class] AAAAA state championship just a couple of years ago, it’s a big win. But we needed this. Our guys needed a game like this. We had a lot of adversity and were behind, the lead changed a bunch. But we played hard. We just had that mentality. They just kept on grinding,” first-year Carrollton coach Ryan Zaideman said.
The Greyhounds (0-2) drew first blood, connecting on a Stephen Skruck solo blast over the left-field fence to lead off the top of the second inning for the early 1-0 edge.
The Trojans (3-0) got the run back in the bottom of the frame after Cain Sauls and Drew Dickey connected on back-to-back one-out singles, with Sauls coming around to score following a pair of wild pitches to tie it up at 1-1 heading into the third.
Carrollton commenced to grab the lead in the third, capitalizing on a Pope fielding error.
With Sam Turner on third base and two outs, Andrew Turner sliced a fly ball that popped out of Greyhound left fielder’s Jake Henson glove, allowing Sam Turner to score for the 2-1 advantage.
Each team had their big inning from there, with the Trojans scoring five runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by a two-run double by Christopher Hicks, to put Carrollton up 7-1. Pope answered with six runs in the top of the fifth, capped by a three-run bomb over the right-field wall courtesy of Greyhound third baseman Nathaniel Lowe, knotting the game at 7-all.
Carrollton recaptured the lead in the home half of the inning, with John Gaiter and Sauls leading off with back-to-back walks. On a sacrifice attempt by Dickey, the throw to first carried Pope’s Harrison Siegal into Dickey, causing the Greyhound second baseman to drop the ball. The dropped ball allowed Gaiter to score all the way from second and left Dickey and Sauls standing at first and third with no outs. The Trojans added another run on a Wil Garrett sacrifice fly, pushing the score to 9-7.
Mitchell Henderson then tossed a scoreless sixth and Ty Wood worked around a leadoff double in the top of the seventh, slamming the door shut with a groundout and a pair of punchouts for the save.
“Ty Wood came in with just that bulldog mentality, and he just shoved. I love that,” Zaideman said.
The Trojans also got a strong effort from senior southpaw Tanner Roach, who got a no-decision after working 4.1 innings, allowing three runs — two earned — on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
“Tanner pitched a great game. He pitched a great game. He got a couple of balls up, and he had three mistakes that hurt him. Other than that, he kept them off-balance and he matched up well against their lefties,” Zaideman said. “Tanner, he’s going to be a horse for us.”
Offensively, Sauls went 2-for-2 with a walk and three runs scored, while Dickey (2-for-2, RBI) and Sam Turner (2-for-4, SB, 2 runs, RBI) also had multiple-hit efforts for Carrollton.
The Trojans turn around and play their third game in three days against another perennial Peach State power when they host Dunwoody today at 2 p.m.
“Yeah, it don’t get any easier. That’s for sure. And, of course, we’ll have great weather. I think it’s supposed to be around 32 [degrees]. So just another day at the beach,” Zaideman said.