Marmion baseball coach Dave Rakow has grown accustomed to watching Alex Troop accomplish just about everything for his team throughout the past few years -- pitch, hit, catch, run.
However, Troop saved up something special during the Cadets' 10-0, 6-inning victory over St. Francis Tuesday afternoon at Joe Nardone Field in Aurora.
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The multi-talented senior stroked a 3-run inside-the-park home run to highlight a 5-run third as the Cadets (15-7, 12-2) built a 7-0 lead after 4 innings.
"It goes back to Pee-Wee probably," Troop said when asked about his last inside-the-park home run.
St. Francis senior right fielder Colin Doyle made a diving attempt for Troop's line drive but was unable to come up with the ball after landing awkwardly on the grass. When Doyle was unable to get back on his feet, Troop raced around the bases.
"I saw that he (Doyle) didn't get up and I was like, 'what's going on,' and then I really started running hard," said Troop. "I see Coach (Rakow) waving me around and see that it's going to be a close play (at the plate)."
Troop's head-first slide beat the tag applied by Spartans catcher Brett Whelton.
"I actually knocked the wind out of myself there when I slid," admitted Troop, who bent over for a few seconds after extending the Cadets' lead to 5-0. "It got the job done and everything turned out all right."
Doyle, meanwhile, remained on the turf for nearly 25 minutes before Aurora paramedics took him to Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora.
"We're about to make a call over there," Spartans coach Rich Janor said after the game. "He (Doyle) was just coming off an injury so he's kind of been our bad-luck guy with injuries."
Troop (5-0), who tossed a 1-hit complete game against St. Francis (20-9, 11-3) earlier in the season, limited the Spartans to 2 hits in 5 innings while racking up 7 strikeouts.
"I feel like it almost worked against me," Troop said of the lengthy delay. "I felt like my arm was a little tight going out there. That's why I shut it down after five innings."
Rakow felt good about his team's chances after the 5-run third, especially with his ace southpaw on the mound.
"I figured if we could just put up one crooked number today it would probably be enough," said Rakow. "When he (Troop) throws strikes, which has pretty much been every game this year, he's very tough to hit. When he gets two strikes on a guy, he's even tougher to hit."
Marmion grabbed a 1-0 in the first without the benefit of a base hit. After Jason Sullivan hit Edgar Sanchez with a pitch, Sanchez advanced to second on a wild pitch, took third on Brian Simon's grounder to the right side and scored on Brady Roberts' RBI groundout.
Gunnar Stanke (2-for-3) drove in a third-inning run with a double while Roberts delivered a 2-run single in the sixth before Zach Siwiec's RBI infield single sealed the deal as Marmion captured the Suburban Christian Conference title outright.
"That has been the focus the entire year," Troop said of the conference crown. "Now we get to move on to the playoffs and we want to make a run there."
"I'm proud of the seniors -- I know it was a really big game for them," said Rakow, who has guided the Cadets to 4 conference titles in 5 years. "It's a good way for the seniors to go out, especially with the conference falling apart."
Sullivan, a junior, suffered the loss for the Spartans.
"We got outplayed in all facets of the game today," said Janor. "That will happen from time to time. We're gearing up for the playoffs now, trying to get some momentum going. We didn't get much today but hopefully the rest of the week we'll be able to accomplish that."