Princeton rallies past Spring Creek for win
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 26, 2004 1:57 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Deja vu.
Defined by Webster's Dictionary as "the feeling that one has had an experience previously, although it is actually a new one."
Princeton baseball coach Bruce Proctor and his Bulldogs experienced this phenomenon in true fashion Tuesday night at Spring Creek in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A Eastern semifinals.
One game removed from erasing a five-run deficit in the late innings at Ayden-Grifton, Princeton turned a 5-2 Gator lead after five innings into a dramatic 6-5 win in front of an estimated 350 fans at Spring Creek's diamond.
It was the fourth meeting of the season between the two Carolina Conference foes. The Bulldogs evened the season series at 2-2.
Bulldogs' reliever Josh Thompson entered the game with the score exactly the same as it was when he took over the contest at Ayden-Grifton last Friday -- 4-1. Again, the junior right-hander proved effective in relief, yielding only one run and one hit with six strikeouts in 42Ú3 innings against another familiar Carolina Conference foe.
"Did you notice the score when he came in?" Proctor asked. "4-1, just like Ayden-Grifton. I can't say enough about these cardiac kids. I've got goose bumps talking about them, and its 100 degrees out here."
Princeton (16-8), who has just one senior on its roster, will open its best-of-three Eastern eegional final matchup at Williamston later this week. The game is tentatively set for Thursday, with the second game slated for June 1 back in Princeton.
In its last trip to the regional finals in 1995, the Bulldogs lost to Williamston.
The Carolina champion Gators finished their most impressive baseball season in school history with a record of 17-10, but it looked as if they were poised to advance in the early innings.
After a leadoff walk to Blake Thompson by Princeton starter Dustin Myers, Jes Snyder and starting pitcher Michael Sigmon connected with back-to-back home runs in the bottom of third to push Spring Creek out to a 4-1 cushion. The two-run blast was Snyder's third home run of the season, while Sigmon's solo shot was his first.
Myers would record one more out before Proctor called on Thompson, who escaped the third with no further damage.
Sigmon had early control problems in the sweltering heat, issuing six walks, including three to begin innings. Still, the senior righty was able to pitch out of the jams as the Bulldogs stranded eight runners through the first four off of Sigmon and reliever Randy Amos.
"We feel like we had a good command of how to pitch them today," Spring Creek coach Roger May said. "If they hit their spots and change speeds ... we did some good things there. We got out of those jams because of that, and we made the plays."
Eventually, Princeton would take advantage of its scoring chances.
A double by Princeton's Daniel Gerrell in the fifth drove in Brandon Pate to make the score 5-2, before the Bulldogs tied the game with a three-run rally in the sixth.
The Bulldogs' Patrick Gatewood and Myers had one RBI each in the sixth inning that saw the Gators make two costly errors, including one on a errant pick-off throw to first. The miscue allowed courtesy runner Robert Gurley to score from second -- tying the game at 5-5.
Colin Parker led off of the seventh with an opposite-field single to left and Gurley, pinch-running for Parker, was sacrificed to second by Thompson.
Amos and the Gators nearly tricked Gurley with a hidden-ball play that had Gurley fooled at second.
Thinking the ball was thrown away, Gurley raced for third with the ball still in Amos' hands. Amos threw behind Gurley to second, but Gurley eventually escaped the jam and reached third when no Spring Creek player covered the base.
Getting to third proved key, as Gurley scored the eventual game-winning run on a squeeze bunt by Thomas Turnage to make the score 6-5.
Facing its first deficit of the game, the Gators went down in order in the seventh against Thompson.
The 350 fans in attendance was easily the largest baseball crowd in the young history of Spring Creek High School, according to Athletics Director Roy Whitfield.
"Look at the atmosphere we built today," May said. "We've got things headed in the right direction."
Thompson, Snyder, Sigmon, Amos, Norman Sites, Patrick McSwain and Jeff Kincaid all played in their final games for the Gators.
"I hope these guys can come back in 10 years and see what they've helped build," May said.
2004 N.C. High School
Class 1-A Baseball Playoffs
(at Spring Creek HS)
Princeton 001 013 1 -- 6 7 4
Spring Creek 103 100 0 -- 5 7 1
Leading hitters -- Princeton -- Dustin Myers 2-3, RBI; Brandon Pate 2-4; Daniel Gerrell 1-3, 2B, RBI. Spring Creek -- Jes Snyder 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Michael Sigmon 2-4, HR, RBI.
IP H R ERBBSO
Myers 21Ú3 5 4 3 2 2
Thompson (W) 42Ú3 1 1 1 2 6
Sigmon 31Ú3 2 1 0 6 2
Amos (L) 32Ú3 5 5 4 2 3
WP -- Myers. PB -- Potter.
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