Bulldogs capture tournament title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 11, 2010 1:50 AM
PRINCETON -- Patrick Jacobs did his best Houdini impression.
Phillip Mitchell delivered a smashing encore.
Jacobs constantly escaped trouble on the mound and Mitchell belted a two-run homer, lifting Princeton past Spring Creek 4-1 in the 2010 Deacon Jones Invitational championship game Friday evening.
The Dogs claimed their first tournament crown since 2005.
"For us to be where we're at, wins and losses-wise and mentally, we really needed both of these wins to get us going in the right direction," said Princeton head coach Bruce Proctor. "It couldn't have worked out any better."
Even Houdini would agree.
An all-tournament selection, Jacobs allowed just two hits in six-plus innings, but issued eight walks. The senior right-hander allowed runners to reach base in five of six innings, however, the Gators just couldn't produce a timely hit.
Spring Creek stranded 10 men, including six in scoring position.
"Man, why did you tell me that?" asked Gators coach Heath Whitfield of the haunting left-on-base statistic. "We sure didn't hit the ball ... couldn't find a way to get it done. Jacobs battled his butt off and when he got in a tight spot, he pitched out of it."
Tyler Daniels and Forrest Stewart, helped, too.
Daniels, the tournament MVP, gunned down the Gators' Eric Evans to end the third inning. Stewart replaced Jacobs in the sixth with the bases loaded and induced a high, infield pop-up from Hunter Barnett to end the inning.
"Patrick really stepped up and I was proud of how he pitched," said Proctor. "For Forrest, a sophomore, to come in with the bases juiced and to get out of that thing man ... unbelievable. All that just reverts back to the character of this team."
Spring Creek scratched out a run in the second inning.
Evans, who made the all-tournament team, slapped a lead-off single to right field and moved into scoring position when Zack Harrell (1-for-1) drew a walk. One out later, Evans took third on a wild pitch and scampered home when the throw from Daniels sailed into left field.
Princeton quickly answered.
Dylan Myers walked, stole second and seemed destined to get stranded as Evans retired the next two batters. Mitchell reached on an infield error and Myers crossed the plate for the 1-1 tie.
The score remained deadlocked until the fifth when all-tournament pick Luke Mitchell legged out an infield single and scored two batters later on Daniels' base knock. It was Daniels' fourth hit of the tournament and third RBI.
Spring Creek (7-5 overall) loaded the sacks on three walks in the sixth. Jacobs and Stewart turned back the Gators, who were seeking their first Invitational championship since 2003.
"We have really struggled, not so much always on the mound, but playing defense behind the guy on the mound," said Proctor. "Tonight, we just kept working out of jams and that's what you've got to do. How you deal with them is really important."
The Dogs (4-10) caught a break in their half of the sixth.
With two outs, center fielder Dontay Boseman and right fielder Cory Howell collided on a fly ball from Austin Hinton, who received all-tournament recognition. The ball deflected off Boseman's glove and Hinton slid into third on the three-base error.
Whitfield pulled Evans in favor of reliever Duane Gurganus, who surrendered the back-breaking, two-run homer to Phillip Mitchell, which accounted for the 4-1 finale. It was Mitchell's first of the season and just Princeton's third homer overall this spring.
"They played real well ... inspired because of what's happened this week with coach Proctor and coach (Russell) Williamson," said Whitfield. "They played their butts off. I thought our kids played hard and Eric did a super job on the mound. He showed us something for sure.
"But, you're not going to win many games leaving that many on base and getting three hits. It's not going to happen."