BY JAKE LOURIM
TROY— In March, 80 degrees. In April, temperatures in the 30.
“I mean, snow isn’t really what you expect in baseball,” senior John Wassel laughed.
Wassel picked up the win in frigid temperatures Tuesday as Troy took its first league game over Bloomfield Hills Lahser, 6-5, crushing a late rally.
Wassel came out after 92 pitches with two outs in the fifth inning, giving way to senior Tyler Horne, who came in cold from third base. Horne walked the bases loaded on his first batter, then got the third out to crush the rally.
“He came out cold; he hadn’t warmed up,” Wassel said. “He did a really good job of getting in there and throwing strikes and letting them put the ball in play and getting the outs that way.”
The senior wasn’t quite done. He surrendered a two-run single to cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth, then another base hit. The Troy outfield held the runner at third, and Horne preserved the lead with a bang-bang third out one batter later.
“That’s veteran leadership, that’s all you can ask for,” Troy coach Jim Ellis said. “You want your senior out there who’s been there before…It’s always nice to have leadership.”
Troy had those plays going all day, beating out throws by fractions of a second and turning the tables on Lahser on defense. It was just one of those days. The Colts were also able to come up with plays when they needed them, such as the bases-loaded, inning-ending fly out in the fifth.
But as with his first start in late March, Horne had a minor control problem.
“My off-speed was not clicking, but then in the last inning I got a slider to break really hard, so that was good,” he said. “Hopefully we get it worked out soon.”
After surviving two tough innings, he mowed down the Knights in the seventh with a pair of strikeouts and a first-pitch groundout.
Wassel, who made his first start since missing half of last season with inflammation in his rotator cuff, also pitched well with the game on the line. He stranded eight runners in five innings.
“I was feeling good. My arm feels really good coming back from last year with my injury,” he said. “I had a little bit of trouble controlling my off-speed, but I worked through it. I had a lot of help out there in the field.”
In his first start, Wassel (1-0) also had trouble getting his off-speed pitches over the plate.
“When your off-speed isn’t working, you can’t blow people away, so you’ve just got to let them put the ball away and let your defense help you,” Wassel said.
He also received a lot of help from his defense and got a big lead early on.
After Lahser struck out the first four Troy batters of the game, the Colts strung together a three-run second inning with two Lahser errors and two RBI singles. Senior Nick Guitar added an RBI triple down the right-field line, and Troy was in business up 5-0.
The Colts moved to 3-1, the only loss being Monday at Sterling Heights Stevenson, 2-1.
“The key was to just get the ball in play, make them make mistakes,” Ellis said. “We just needed to make contact with the ball.”
What pleased the team most was that Troy won a very close game, getting the outs and hits at the key times.
The Colts got into jams on the mound, but Wassel and Horne had the important ones over the plate. Horne only walked one hitter.
“That’s not too bad,” he said. “I can live with that.”
TROY 6, BLOOMFIELD HILLS LAHSER 5
W – Wassel (Troy) – 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 6 BB, 5 K, 92 NP
L – Krentz (Lahser) – 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 5 K, 54 NP
S – Horne (Troy) – 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 39 NP
BHL 000 2120 – 5 8 5
T 032 010x – 6 6 3
STERLING HEIGTHS STEVENSON 2, TROY 1: Troy junior Michael Thomas’s stellar pitching performance just wasn’t enough.
He threw six strong, giving up only two runs (one earned), but lost the game to Stevenson sophomore sensation Daniel Hughes. Hughes pitched six innings of three-hit ball with only one run.
Thomas is now 1-1 with a 0.64 ERA in his first year on varsity.
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