04/03/05 — Harmon leads Princeton to win in Deacon Jones finale

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Harmon leads Princeton to win in Deacon Jones finale

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 3, 2005 10:00 AM

PRINCETON -- Princeton sophomore Kyle Harmon picked up his first career win and slugged his first home run at the varsity level as the host Bulldogs raced past Spring Creek 11-1 in the finale of the fourth annual Deacon Jones Invitational on Friday night.

Princeton (10-1) went 3-0 during the three-day event and won the tourney for the first time - outscoring its opponents 15-2.

"Happy to finally win our tournament for once," Princeton coach Bruce Proctor said. "We still have a lot of room for improvement. That's a good thing I think.

"When you don't have things to work on, you don't get better."

Eight Bulldogs scored and 10 reached base against the Gators, who defeated North Johnston 7-4 earlier on Friday. Harmon's homer to left field in the bottom of the fourth -- also his first career hit -- made it 5-1 before a six-run sixth put the game away.

The Bulldogs final run proved fitting in a game where they ran the bases aggressively. Thomas Turnage alertly tagged and scored on a sacrifice fly caught by second baseman Josh Gammon in shallow right field - ending the game due to the 10-run rule.

Princeton's Brandon Pate, named the tournament's MVP, finished with two hits and three RBI, while teammate Dustin Myers had two singles and scored twice. Daniel Gerrell contributed a two-run single in the sixth. Turnage and Bren Hall both scored twice on the game.

Spring Creek managed just one hit, a bunt single with two outs in the sixth by Derek Kirby, as Colin Parker and Harmon combined on a one-hitter.

Harmon entered the game in the third in relief of fellow-sophomore Parker, suffering from pain in the back of his left, throwing shoulder. Harmon struck out eight and allowed only two base-runners.

"He came in and gave us some good innings," Proctor said.."Colin got hurt, and Kyle was really untested. That's the way to break in right there."

Spring Creek got its lone run in the top of the first when Kirby was hit by a pitch by Parker with the bases loaded, scoring Blake Thompson, who walked.

Timothy Rogers picked up the loss for the Gators (3-7) in three innings of work, yielding three runs (two earned) on three hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Daniel Correll, John Kelly, Anthony Brogden and Devin Graves also saw action on the mound in the tournament finale.

Three Gator errors led to three of the Bulldogs' runs.

"I was disappointed in a few things, but we came out and played good baseball today," Spring Creek coach Roger May said. "You can't make mistakes against that team. They are a talented group of players."

The opener saw Spring Creek jump out to a 5-0 lead after the first two innings against North Johnston. Lead-off hitter and catcher Jed Potter reached on an error to start the game, then later scored on another Panther miscue to put the Gators on the board.

Potter added a two-run single in the second and scored on another error by North Johnston to cap a four-run inning. Ray Grady, John Kelly and Kirby all walked and scored against Panther starter Ashley Moore in the second.

In the first two innings, Moore had four wild pitches, while the Gators stole four bases and executed one sacrifice bunt to jump out to an early lead.

"Right now we have to do everything we can to score runs," May said. "We did some things in the first three or four innings. We are coming along."

Moore settled into a rhythm over the next three, striking out seven in a trio of perfect innings. Moore finished with nine strikeouts in five innings of work and a losing effort.

The Panthers attempted to chip away at the Spring Creek margin during the middle and late innings. With Kirby, who picked up the win, on the mound, Garrett Stancil and Craig Hardin delivered RBI singles in the fourth and fifth, respectively, making it 5-2.

The Gators tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the sixth as Grady and Correll brought home one run each. Correll's RBI came on a perfectly-executed squeeze play.

In the sixth against Thompson, Moore walked and scored on a passed ball, while Hardin delivered his second RBI in as many innings to push the score to its final margin at 7-4.

After Hardin's hit, May brought in Brogden, who struck out three and retired five in a row in the sixth and seventh to pick up his first career save.

"I think pitching is one of our biggest assets right now," May said. "Defense and hitting is what we question mark a lot. We've got to become a better hitting and defensive team."

Both Princeton and Spring Creek return to Class 1-A Carolina Conference action at home on Tuesday. The Bulldogs host North Johnston on Tuesday, while the Gators entertains Farmville Central.