May 22--Troy made sure a historic title came with a memorable winning sequence.
Down two runs in their final at-bat, the Trojans rallied for an 8-6 victory against previously undefeated Valley Falls in a Class 2-1A regional championship game Wednesday in Leavenworth, Kan.Troy now makes an unlikely appearance in its first-ever state tournament thinks to the heroics.
Alex Schmille led off with a walk and moved to second base on Nathan Gaarder's one-out single to start the seventh for Troy (16-3).
Tucker Morris followed a run-scoring single, recording his fourth RBI overall, that moved Collin Jasper -- Gaarder's courtesy runner -- to third base representing the potential tying run. Trojans coach Roger Purdy elected to play for the tying run, calling for a suicide squeeze bunt with Caleb Winkel at the plate.
The attempt materialized.
Valley Falls pitcher Luke Burns balked moments after Jasper took a lead from third base. Tied at 6, Troy -- ranked No. 6 in the most recent Kansas Baseball Coaches Association poll -- then added insurance runs on Tristan Speer's two-run single.
"It was a pretty nuts," said Purdy, who has been an assistant or head coach for all four years of Troy baseball. "I was just trying to make things happen."
Valley Falls, 21-0 entering the finals and No. 3 in the same state poll, made a late charge in the bottom of the seventh when Zac Allen doubled with two outs. Gaarder, the junior starting pitcher, retired the last batter with a fly ball to end the threat, improving to 9-0 with the victory.
The two teams played eight days ago with Valley Falls, a state qualifier three of the past four years, sweeping a doubleheader by scores of 8-7 and 14-4.
Troy won 9-2 earlier in the day against host Immaculata, another former Delaware Valley League foe, to reach a regional final for the first time in the program's short history. The Trojans now await their opening-round foe in the eight-team state tournament bracket, set to be played May 29 and 30 in Great Bend, Kan.
Troy last played a part in a state appearance in 2009. Troy and Wathena were in a cooperative agreement at the time playing as Doniphan County, which placed third in Class 3A that season.
The co-op ended after the following season when Wathena opted to consolidate districts with neighboring Elwood to form Riverside, which has its own solo baseball program.
"The opportunity to go to state doesn't come around a lot," Purdy said.
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