06/02/04 — Princeton wins 1-A eastern championship

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Princeton wins 1-A eastern championship

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 2, 2004 1:58 PM

PRINCETON -- Two first-inning errors produced a two-run deficit and drew an uncharacteristic chewing out from Bruce Proctor. The Princeton baseball coach jumped off the dugout bench after the second inning, called his players over and challenged them "not to beat themselves."

The dialogue momentarily shocked the players.

Proctor thought he had lost his mind.

"What in the devil am I doing?" Proctor quipped. "The next inning, I said 'guys, I've lost my mind. This is where y'all want to be'."


The Bulldogs -- again -- put together another patented come-from-behind rally before a standing-room-only crowd of 400-plus fans. Dustin Myers' two-RBI single and Daniel Gerrell's two-run double ignited a middle-game offensive surge as Princeton dumped Williamston 11-6 and swept the eastern regional best-of-three series 2-0 Tuesday evening.

Princeton (19-8) clinched a berth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A championship series, which begins next Friday at an undetermined site. Proctor's team opposes either two-time defending state title-holder South Stokes or Hayesville. South Stokes leads that series 1-0 with game two scheduled for tonight.

It's the Bulldogs' first trip to the title series since 1994.

"God almighty, these kids don't give up," Proctor said. "They play hard, which is a tribute to those kids. They don't get down.

"We made a lot of mistakes, but I'm not going to say a word about them."

The early-game miscues, on offense and defense, boosted the Tigers' hopes of forcing a third game on their home diamond later this week. The Bulldogs ran themselves out of the first inning and fell victim to a double play in the second inning.

Myers and Gerrell turned it around in the third.

Williamston right-hander Hunter Rogerson walked Thomas Turnage and Bren Hall. Patrick Gatewood loaded the bases with an infield single and Myers tied the contest at 2-2 with a sharply-hit single up the middle.

Brandon Pate followed with a single. Gerrell laced his two-RBI double into the left center field gap, giving the Bulldogs a 4-2 advantage -- one they would never relinquish. Gerrell's extra-base hit chased Rogerson from the mound, but reliever Styron Barfield didn't fare much better.

Princeton, 7-0 in home playoff games since 1995, tacked on two more runs. The Bulldogs sent 11 batters to the plate in the multiple-run inning and all but two reached safely.

"Once we started getting it going, we took off," Proctor said. "(Hitting) is contagious, just like winning. I'm just tickled to death."

The Bulldogs added three runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Seven of nine starters had at least one hit, while five players turned in multiple-hit efforts.

Myers batted 3-for-3 with four RBI. Gatewood contributed three hits and an RBI in three plate appearances. Pate, Gerrell and Josh Thompson each ended the night 2-for-4 and combined for five RBI.

Princeton had 14 hits overall.

Thompson claimed his second postseason victory, scattering eight hits in a six-inning stint. The right-handed junior struck out four, walked two and yielded six unearned runs.

Myers threw the final inning, which ended on a double play. Brody Bland slapped a fly ball to shallow right field and the Bulldogs' Colin Parker tracked it down for the second out. The play caught the Tigers' J.J. House too far off first base and Parker smartly threw the ball to Bren Hall for the game-ending out.

The play set off a wild celebration that ended in a pile-up of players near home plate.

"You can't ask for anything better than that," Myers said. "That was just solid. For a third-seeded team, we're already supposed to be out (of the playoffs).

"We're proud to be here."

Notes: Princeton and Williamston played for the 1995 eastern regional, which the Tigers won 2-1. ... The two teams have combined to appear in seven championship series since 1995 and 12 overall. ... The Bulldogs claimed the 1-A titles in 1992 and 1994, and finished as runner-up in 1993. ... Williamston won state championships in 1-A (1955, 1995), 2-A (1969) and 3-A (1975, 1976). The Tigers were state runner-ups, all on the 1-A level, in 1957, 1998, 2001 and 2002.

2004 N.C. High School

Athletic Association

Class 1-A Eastern Regional

Best-of-three series

(at Princeton HS)

Game 2

Williamston 110 013 0 -- 6 8 4

Princeton 006 320 x -- 11 14 5

Leading hitters -- Princeton -- Bren Hall 1-2; Patrick Gatewood 3-3; Dustin Myers 3-3, 4 RBI; Brandon Pate 2-4; Daniel Gerrell 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Brooks Moore 1-3; Josh Thompson 2-4, 2B, RBI. Williamston -- Matt Whitaker 2-4; Anthony Williams 1-3; J.J. House 1-3; Seth Barnes 1-4; Brody Bland 2-4; Styron Barfield 1-2.

DP -- Tigers 1, Bulldogs 2. LOB -- Princeton 7, Williamston 5. SH -- Gatewood. SB -- Pate. CS -- House.


Williamston (17-9)

Rogerson (L) 2 4 5 5 4 2

Barfield 4 10 6 5 1 2

Princeton (19-8)

Thompson (W, 5-1) 6 8 6 0 1 3

Myers 1 0 0 0 0 0

WP -- Thompson 2. BK -- Thompson. PB -- Bryant. HBP -- Williams (by Thompson), Myers (by Rogerson).