05/25/07 — Dawgs come back versus Camden

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Dawgs come back versus Camden

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 25, 2007 1:48 PM

PRINCETON -- Dustin Pate could feel the fatigue set in. The right-handed hurler just hoped he could survive at least one more inning and keep his team in the game.

He did.

The Princeton senior kept his poise, relied on his defense and helped the Dawgs turn back Camden County 5-2 in game one of their best-of-three, Class 1-A N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional championship series on Thursday evening. It was the Bulldogs' third consecutive come-from-behind win in the postseason.

The series switches to Camden today with a first-pitch time of 7 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will be played Saturday at Princeton.

"We're glad to get the first one," said Bulldogs head coach Bruce Proctor. "We just want to go up there, play well and not beat ourselves (today)."

An early-season injury prevented Pate from throwing any significant amount of innings. Heading into Thursday's outing, he had thrown less than 10 innings total and that included nearly a seven-inning effort last week.

Pate began losing energy when Camden County (19-9 overall) staged a fifth-inning rally that could have been disastrous. An uncharacteristic outfield error and infield single stoked the Bruins' fire.

Zach Leslie drew a walk to load the bases and Pate could sense the game possibly slipping away. Lead-off batter Weston Dodson put Camden ahead 2-1 with a sacrifice fly to left field.

"I believe I was finally getting tired," said Pate, who threw 82 pitches.

However, Pate retired the next two batters on a flyout and strikeout, and escaped any further damage. The Bruins left the bases loaded.

"That hurt us," said Camden coach Mickey Drew. "We really have been putting the ball in play in big situations and we didn't tonight. That's a testament to their pitching and testament to their defense.

"We told our guys before the game there are no bad teams left (in the playoffs). You're going to have to do the things good teams do to win. Good teams usually scratch two runs out of that."

Pate's effort drew praise from Proctor.

"Outstanding," said Proctor. "That shows you that he's been up there before, but he hasn't been up there much this year. For a kid to keep his composure like he did, stay disciplined and not lose his cool, he did a great job.

"I'm glad we've got him back."

Pate redeemed himself in the Dawgs' half of the fifth. The senior laced a double to deep center field. Drew Whaley replaced Pate at second base and scored on Jon Hartley's first-pitch single to right center.

Jared McLamb moved Benton Myers, Hartley's courtesy runner, into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Colin Parker, Michael Radford and Daniel Gerrell followed with hits as Princeton vaulted ahead 4-2.

"We had a guy ready and starter (Ethan Meiggs) said he had one more (inning) in him," said Drew. "A ball (Pate's hit) our center fielder would normally catch, he drifted instead of going ahead and getting there. Things like that happen in a big game sometimes."

Reliever Adam Russell intentionally walked Ryan Daughtry to get the force play at home. With the Bruin infielders on the grass, Adam Nethercutt ripped a grounder that squirted under the shortstop's glove.

Radford scored for the 5-2 finale.

"We had a problem waiting back (early), but in the fifth inning, everybody waited back and drove it hard somewhere," said Pate. "When we get down, we don't get down on ourselves. We knew we could get the job done."

Pate threw a perfect sixth. He induced just two ground-ball outs to go along with five strikeouts and several pop-ups. It was his first decision of the season.

"We made a few mistakes tonight, but those guys are great," Pate said of his defense. "They make outstanding plays and I knew they had my back. I just threw strikes and they hit the ball. I knew our defense should make the play."

Daughtry walked two Bruins in the seventh, but earned the save with a game-ending strikeout. Princeton (22-6 overall) collected its fifth straight postseason victory and is one win shy of reaching the state finals for the first time since 2004.

Daughtry supplied a two-out, RBI single in the first. The Bruins countered with Cory Plymel's two-out, RBI single in the fourth. Each team turned a rally-killing double play in the 1-hour, 36-minute contest, which set the table for the late-inning theatrics.

Camden County 000 110 0 -- 2 4 1

Princeton 100 040 x -- 5 8 2

Leading hitters -- Camden County -- Preston Dodson 1-3, 2B; Corey Plymel 1-3, RBI; Brian Krainiak 1-1. Princeton -- Colin Parker 1-3; Michael Radford 2-3, 2B, RBI; Daniel Gerrell 1-3, 2B; Ryan Daughtry 2-2, RBI; Dustin Pate 1-3, 2B; Jon Hartley 1-3, RBI.

DP -- Camden 1, Princeton 1. LOB -- Camden 5, Princeton 5. SH -- McLamb. SF -- W. Dodson. SB -- Sawyer, Parker, Daughtry.


Camden County

Meiggs (L) 4 1/3 6 4 4 1 3

Russell 1 2/3 2 1 0 1 1


Pate (W, 1-0) 6 4 2 1 2 5

Daughtry (S) 1 0 0 0 2 2

WP -- Daughtry.

T -- 1:36.