Princeton clinches third-straight league crown
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 2, 2007 2:40 PM
PRINCETON -- Colin Parker has found his rhythm again.
That's good news for Princeton and bad news for opponents as the postseason approaches. Just ask Class 1-A Carolina Conference rival Ayden-Grifton.
Parker, a left-handed hurler, delivered a one-hit shutout as the Bulldogs blanked the Chargers 10-0 on the Fred Bartholomew Athletic Complex diamond Tuesday evening. Princeton seized its third consecutive Carolina crown and eighth overall in program history since 1986.
The Bulldogs secured the No. 1 seed and a first-round home contest in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, which begin May 11.
"We're glad to get it," said Princeton head coach Bruce Proctor. "Now we can look forward to going to Rosewood with no pressure. (Winning the conference) is one of our goals every year that we set.
"I'm very proud of these guys."
Princeton (18-4 overall) remained unbeaten in nine league outings, including a perfect 5-0 ledger at home against Carolina opposition.
Proctor couldn't have been more pleased with Parker, who flirted with a perfect game through three innings. The senior fanned every Charger batter at least once and faced two batters over the minimum in the contest, which was shortened to five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
"Outstanding," gushed Proctor. "That was a great pitching performance. The last couple of outings, he's really looked good and is establishing himself as the ace of our staff right now."
Parker (6-3) threw first-pitch strikes to nine of 17 batters he faced. Justin Johnson spoiled Parker's no-hit bid with a lead-off single in the fifth, but was erased on a rally-killing double play.
"In the early innings, my curveball was working," said Parker. "They were swinging and missing everything. The later part of the game, they were putting the ball in play, but were hitting it at our guys.
"I've really been getting back on pace lately. At the beginning of the season, I wasn't hitting my spots very well. Lately I've been controlling my fastball and getting my curveball over early in the count."
The Dawgs, ranked No. 8 in the ImpactBaseball.com 1-A poll, struggled to give Parker run support the first two innings. The Chargers (9-13, 2-7 Carolina) gunned a runner down at the plate in the opening inning, and Proctor's club left the bases loaded in the second.
"We were hitting the ball, but couldn't get it (timely hit) when we needed it or when it would hurt the most," said Proctor.
Proctor gambled a little bit in the third when Michael Radford (4-for-4, two RBI) and catcher Daniel Gerrell reached base. Radford stole two bases and Chris Hinton, Gerrell's courtesy runner, picked up a stolen base.
After a strikeout, Adam Nethercutt hit into a fielder's choice that the Chargers failed to execute. Radford easily scored and Hinton slid under catcher Jeff McArthur's tag to make it 2-0.
Andrew Cobb supplied an RBI triple. Dustin Pate belted a two-run home run, his sixth of the season, to put Princeton in command 5-0.
"We actually made a few base-running mistakes and it wound up that we got away with them," said Proctor. "That got us going."
Princeton polished off its Carolina three-peat with a five-run fifth. Radford delivered a two-RBI double and Gerrell ended the game with a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle.
Seven of nine starters had at least one hit for the Dawgs, who collected their sixth consecutive victory. Princeton is 41-13 in Carolina Conference play since 2003.
"We've been cruising here lately and hopefully we can keep it up through the playoffs," said Parker, one of nine seniors honored before the game. "We just have to stay on edge, don't take anything for granted and we'll be fine."
Ayden-Grifton 000 00 -- 0 1 3
Princeton 005 05 -- 10 11 0
Two outs when game-ending run scored.
Leading hitters -- Ayden-Grifton -- Justin Johnson 1-2. Princeton -- Colin Parker 2-3, 2B; Michael Radford 4-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Daniel Gerrell 1-3, 2 RBI; Andrew Cobb 1-3, 3B, RBI; Dustin Pate 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Jared McLamb 1-3, RBI.
DP -- Ayden-Grifton 1, Princeton 1. LOB -- Ayden-Grifton 2, Princeton 6. SB -- Radford 2, Hinton, Cobb.
IP H R ER BB SO
Pait (L) 4 2/3 11 10 9 4 3
Parker (W, 6-3) 5 1 0 0 1 9
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