Bulldogs escape Chargers in extra innings
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 23, 2004 2:02 AM
By GABE WHISNANT
News-Argus Sports Writer
LITTLEFIELD -- When Princeton junior Josh Williams entered the Bulldogs' Class 1-A eastern quarterfinal game at Ayden-Grifton to pitch on Friday, he was greeted with some "smack" talk by the Chargers' dugout.
He answered with a simple smile.
Williams, who picked up the win in 4 2/3 innings of stout relief work, and the rest of his Princeton teammates' smiles only got bigger as they erupted in celebration after a 7-6, comeback win in eight innings over their familiar Carolina Conference foe.
Williams, a junior right-hander, helped his cause by posting his third hit in three plate appearances with a double to lead off the top of the eighth. Running for Williams, courtesy runner Adam Nethercutt came around to score the eventual game-winning run on Patrick Gatewood's sharp single to center with one out -- pushing the score to its final 7-6 margin.
Dustin Myers relieved Williams in the bottom of the eighth and retired all three batters he faced to pick up the save and secure the Bulldogs' spot in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern semifinals and a meeting with another conference opponent -- Spring Creek.
The game, which will be the fourth of the season between the Gators (17-9) and Bulldogs (15-8), is slated for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Seven Springs. Spring Creek -- winners of its last eight -- leads the season series 2-1.
"Roger (May) has those guys playing awfully good right now," said Princeton coach Bruce Proctor about his next opponent. "If we don't make it to the eastern regionals, then I'll be proud that they have made it from our conference."
Ayden-Grifton concluded its season 18-10.
Trailing 6-1, Princeton steadily started to put things together completely in the fourth.
Daniel Gerrell's two-run double scored Brandon Pate and starting pitcher Colin Parker as the first of Thompson's three hits plated Gerrell to pull the Bulldogs to within two at 6-4.
Williams seemed to feed off of the offensive momentum on the mound, striking out eight batters in innings four through seven -- including striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh. Williams yielded three walks, but allowed only one hit during the four-inning stretch.
Ayden-Grifton failed to score in the final five innings.
"For me, I always seem to settle down as the innings go on," Williams said. "Having a good defense behind me always helps too."
After a scoreless fifth against reliever Justin Stepps, Princeton rallied with two outs in the bottom of the sixth with significant help from the Charger defense. Three Ayden-Grifton errors to go with an infield single by Thompson led to two unearned Princeton runs -- tying the game at 6-6.
Conversely, the Bulldogs made no errors on the game.
The middle to late stages belonged to Princeton, but Ayden-Grifton jumped out of the gate in impressive fashion.
Third and fourth place hitters, Alex McCarter and Hunter Carnes, delivered one two-run home run each in the first and third innings, respectively. Carnes' blast to left caused Proctor to bring in Thompson in relief of Parker.
The Chargers tacked on two more runs in the third off of Thompson with Richie Turner and Matt Brown delivering a pair of two-out RBI to push the lead to 6-1 before Princeton started chipping away at the lead.
"These guys don't ever give up and they haven't all season," Proctor said. "You've got to do the little things in any game, especially the playoffs, and that's what we did tonight."
2004 N.C. High School
Class 1-A Baseball Playoffs
(at Ayden-Grifton HS)
Princeton 100 302 01 -- 7 10 0
Ayden-Grifton 204 000 00 -- 6 8 5
Leading hitters -- Princeton -- Bren Hall 2-5, 2B, 2 runs; Brandon Pate 2-3; Daniel Gerrell 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Josh Thompson 3-3, 2B, RBI. Ayden-Grifton -- Alex McCarter 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Hunter Carnes 1-4, HR, 2 RBI; Justin Stepps 2-4, 2B; Richie Turner 2-3, RBI.
IP H R ER BB SO
Parker 2 1/3 4 4 4 2 3
Thompson (W) 4 2/3 4 2 2 3 8
Myers (S) 1 0 0 0 0 1
Carnes 3 2/3 5 4 4 3 4
Stepps (L) 4 1/3 5 3 1 0 2
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