TROY — Tippecanoe baseball coach Bruce Cahill coached his 1,000th game Monday, but he liked 1,001 a lot better.
In two games that reflected the rivalry between Tipp and Troy baseball teams —both going to the last pitch and ending with tying runs on on base — the Red Devils earned a split in the series at the Market Street diamond with Tipp winning 7-4.
Tipp improved to 15-1 overall and 12-1 in the MVL, while Troy dropped to 10-7 overall and 10-4 in the MVL.
And it continued a trend in the series.
“I am really happy with what my kids did tonight,” Cahill said. “This is a game we had to have (Vandalia also has one loss) if we want to have any chance to win the league. Over the last four years, Troy has won all four games at our place and we have won all four games here. It doesn’t make any sense. I can’t explain it.”
Troy coach Ty Welker had no explanation either.
“I can’t tell you why,” Welker, whose team also split with Vandalia-Butler, said. “Of course, we wanted to win tonight. But, I consider Vandalia and Tipp two of the best teams in the state. If you would have told me a month ago we would split with two of the top teams in the state, I would have taken it.”
And Troy took a 4-3 lead to the sixth inning when it’s youth helped contribute to a a four-run Tipp rally.
“We are still making little mistakes,” Welker said. “It isn’t any one thing or wasn’t any one play that made the difference tonight. There are just a lot of little things.”
With one out in the inning, Gavin Martin reached on an error and Aiden Heffner and Max Dunaway walked, with Brian Allen relieving Andrew Helman before Dunaway’s at bat.
Martin scored on Troy Taylor’s fielder’s choice to tie it 4-4.
That set the stage for Brayden Bottles.
First, Bottles delivered a two-run single to make it 6-4.
Then, Bottles scored from first base on Jonny Baileys single to right-field when the throw in went to second base. to make it 7-4. He also had two web gems in right field, making diving catches.
“Brayden (Bottles) is a an athlete,” Cahill said. “The key to that play was the he was running hard the whole way.”
“That’s why you run bases like that,” he said.
Troy put the first two runners on in the seventh to bring the tying run to the plate. But, Tippecanoe ace Matt Salmon retired the next three batters to give Tipp the win.
Salmon, 6-0 on the season, pitched a nine-hitter and overcame four errors behind him. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter.
“Matt was pitching on three days rest, so he didn’t have his best stuff,” Cahill said. “We had seven errors and eight walks Monday. But, the errors don’t hurt you as much when you don’t have the walks. Matt still struck out nine. He is good. And, now we are going to be able to give him six days rest.”
Troy had taken a 3-0 lead in the second.
Connor Hutchinson had a RBI double and Eli Donnan had a two-run single.
Tipp answered with three runs in the third to tie it.
Salmon had a two-run single and Clay Vaughn followed with a RBI single.
Troy took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when Caleb Fogarty had a RBi single after Donnan and Zach Prouty reached on errors.
That set the stage for the Tippecanoe rally in the sixth.
Helman and Allen combined on a seven-hitter for Troy, striking out seven and walking four.
“Andrew (Helman) did a great job,” Welker said. “He certainly deserved a better fate. We are young and still learning out there.”
Cahill knows that as well.
“Troy is going to be really good the next two years,” he said. “We are going to have to work hard.”
To continue the trend of the Miami County rivalry.