In his final game of the 2012 season, the right-handed pitcher delivered a brilliant performance to lead Troup to a 5-1 victory over Columbus in Game 2 of their state-playoff semifinal series.
The Tigers lost the next day in Game 3, ending the season for McClurg and the Tigers.
On Monday, Troup opened its season, and McClurg was given the starting assignment.
McClurg responded with a sterling opening-day effort, giving up just three hits over seven innings as Troup blanked Northgate 2-0.
“My goal was just to go out there and throw strikes and let my defense work for me,” McClurg said. “I only had four strikeouts. My defense, I give a lot of credit to them.”
McClurg was efficient with his pitches, which allowed him to go the full seven innings in his first start of the season.
McClurg said his “curveball and changeup were the best pitches I had. I had a little trouble locating my fastball at times. But to lefties, my changed was the best it’s been in awhile.”
While the pitching and defense were superb for Troup, the offense had trouble getting on track.
The Tigers managed just five hits, although one of those hits was a clutch two-run single by Dalton Hadley.
“We got ourselves in trouble early. We had some opportunities to get some runners over to third, and we had two failed sacrifice attempts,” Troup head coach Craig Garner said. “That kills you. Anytime you can get a guy at third with less than two outs, you feel like you have a pretty good chance of getting him in. To shoot ourselves in the foot, it was frustrating.”
The Tigers finally broke through in the fifth inning.
Jarred Adams and Justin Neighbors reached on singles, and Hadley’s one-out base hit brought them both in.
The Tigers didn’t score again, but they didn’t have to thanks to McClurg.
“We have to hit a little better,” Garner said. “We had five hits. Unless you have stellar pitching and stellar defense, it’s going to be tough to win a lot of ballgames.”
The Tigers have the pitching and defense to win on days when the bats aren’t working, though, something they showed on Monday.
“We feel like coming in we have some of the intangibles to keep us in some ballgames,” Garner said.
Troup will try to make it two in a row when it hosts Newnan on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.