04/09/10 — Gators, Eagles stage wild affair

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Gators, Eagles stage wild affair

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 9, 2010 1:47 PM

PRINCETON -- Rosewood couldn't close the door.

The Eagles built an eight-run cushion after 11/2 innings, but Spring Creek refused to quit Thursday afternoon.

The Gators used a four-run, no-hit second inning as the springboard to a come-from-behind, 15-13 victory during opening-round play of the 2010 Deacon Jones Invitational at Princeton High School.

Spring Creek (7-4 overall) opposes the host Bulldogs for the championship at 7 p.m. today. Rosewood (5-6) faces former Carolina 1-A Conference rival North Johnston in the third-place game at 4 p.m.

"You have to give Spring Creek a lot of credit because they could have hung their head early, but they kept battling and kept fighting," said Eagles head coach Jason King. "There was a lot of baseball left to play (after the second) and that's what I told our guys. (Spring Creek) played hard and fought for it, did the things they needed to (to win)."

Matt Neal's solo home run and Will Winslow's RBI double staked Rosewood to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Eagles added six second-inning runs on three walks, a wild pitch, two errors, a hit batsman and four hits.

"I was about ready to put a tent over this circus in the second inning," said Gators head coach Heath Whitfield.

Spring Creek rallied.

Eagles starter Cody Harris issued four consecutive walks, including an RBI bases-loaded free pass to Ricky Brayboy. After a strikeout, Wyatt Janning -- in his first varsity start -- plated the second run with an RBI groundout.

An error and Hunter Barnett's base hit trimmed the deficit in half, 8-4.

"We were feeling good about ourselves," said King. "I told them you cannot get complacent, you have to keep your foot on the gas. This is a good team and we just can't sit back on heels. We have to go get it."

The Gators got it, instead.

Spring Creek grabbed the lead with a seven-run, third-inning outburst. Chris Nichols and Corey Howell each doubled, Dontay Boseman tripled and the Gators profited from four wild pitches and two errors.

"We've been struggling on the mound a little bit this year with the strike zone, getting in it and getting ahead early," said King. "When you struggle on the mound like that, you have to expect that every team is going to have a chance if you don't get in the strike zone."

Six of nine Spring Creek starters recorded at least one hit in the 3-hour marathon. Barnett, who emerged the winning pitcher in relief, batted 4-for-5 with three RBI. Boseman, Nichols and Evans contributed two hits apiece.

Neal (2 RBI), Harris (RBI), Winslow (2 RBI), Jonathan Franks (2 RBI) and Trevor Cox (RBI) each logged two hits for the Eagles. Scott Pate added one hit and an RBI.

Beasley took the mound loss.

"(Our kids) showed us a lot," said Whitfield. "We fought back, chipped way and chipped way. (We) found a way to get runners on base and got big hits with men in scoring position.

"I'm pleased we didn't quit and give in."