Princeton clinches outright Carolina title
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 11, 2005 2:07 PM
For the second night in a row, Princeton found its stride at the plate in the late innings.
On Tuesday night in front of a large crowd at rival Rosewood, the Bulldogs banged out four hits in a row in the top of the seventh -- two for extra bases -- turning a 6-6 struggle into an 11-6 win to close the regular season.
Dustin Myers delivered the first blow of the rally, slugging a double to left-center field against Rosewood ace Dustin Overman to score Bren Hall and Colin Parker, who both walked. Daniel Gerrell then tripled, while Brandon Pate and Josh Thompson each delivered RBI singles.
Gerrell (2-5, 3 RBI) and Parker (3-3, 2 2B) finished with huge, offensive outputs for the defending Class 1-A N.C. High School Athletic Association Eastern champs.
The five-run outburst in the seventh followed a six-run rally in the sixth against Farmville Central the night before at Princeton (17-5, 10-2 Class 1-A Carolina Conference), which will open the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs at home next Tuesday.
"We've come through when we needed to lately," Myers said. "We got some big time hits. This should give us good momentum going into the playoffs."
Rosewood (12-8, 7-5 Carolina) needed a win and a Farmville Central victory over Ayden-Grifton to earn its first postseason berth since 2002. The Eagles got the latter with the Jaguars winning 6-0 and were four outs from the former.
Rosewood rallied for three runs in the fifth against the right-hander Myers with Kyle Bunn posting an RBI triple and Overman and Brantley Ellis scoring runs with singles. Ellis' single to center came against Princeton reliever Kyle Harmon, giving Rosewood a 6-4 lead.
Harmon went on to pick up the win in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Trailing by two, Parker, who went 3-3 with two doubles and scored three times, slugged his second two-bagger to start the sixth. Overman then set the school, single-season strikeout record with his 98th "K," before picking up the second out on a ground out.
Brandon Pate was then intentionally walked to set up first and second with two outs. Overman appeared to be out of the jam, but a past ball allowed Parker and Pate to take second and third.
Then, Josh Thompson's high fly to the third baseman was dropped -- allowing Parker and Pate to both scamper home to tie the game. Princeton's final nine runs, including the five that followed in the seventh, came with two outs.
"The routine things ... errors, walks ... that's what hurt us tonight," Rosewood coach Scott Adams said. "We had it in our hands, but it just slipped away."
Overman, a senior who entered the game with an earned run average under 1.00, finished with nine strikeouts (99 for season) against eight walks, while yielding eight earned runs on 10 hits.
"He's an example of what high school baseball is all about," Adams said of Overman, who has been nursing a pulled muscle in his shoulder. "You hate to see kids work that hard and things not work out the way you want them.
"But, there's only one winner at the end of every season."
Myers worked the first 4 1/3 for the Bulldogs, allowing three runs (none earned) through the first four. The senior righty fanned four and walked two during his stint.
A two-run double to right by senior Justin Allen with two outs in the fourth pulled Rosewood within one at 4-3 and proved the Eagles first hit against Myers.
The Eagles' three runs in the fifth chased Myers as Harmon came on to extinguish the rally after yielding one, RBI single. Harmon, a sophomore, struck out the final two batters he faced in the fifth and gave up one hit each in the sixth and seventh, but he kept Rosewood off of the scoreboard.
Princeton will oppose the third-place team from the Coastal Plains Conference when the first round begins on Tuesday, but the Bulldogs first travel to SouthWest Onslow in a non-conference game today.
"This is a good time of the year to be getting things going," Princeton coach Bruce Proctor said. "You've got to think a loss to Rosewood would have hurt us going into the playoffs. I think today's game is important too. We need to make that long bus trip and play well tomorrow night."
Overman, Allen and Jason Scarborough played in their final games for the purple and gold.
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