03/24/12 — Gators claim ugly win in Carolina 1-A opener

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Gators claim ugly win in Carolina 1-A opener

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 24, 2012 11:08 PM

PRINCETON -- Sometimes you just have to win ugly.

Spring Creek certainly did Friday evening.

The Gators capitalized on Princeton's defensive miscues and grinded out an 8-4 victory in their Carolina 1-A Conference opener on the Fred Bartholomew Athletic Complex baseball diamond.

"I thought we had played a lot better the last couple of games than we did tonight, but Princeton was part of that, too, because they're scrappy and they play hard," said Spring Creek head coach Heath Whitfield. "They're going to give you everything they had every time. Our guys just sucked it up, gutted it out and when we needed a big hit, we got it.

"When we needed a big play, we got it. They just reached down, dug deep and didn't want to lose."

Spring Creek (6-5 overall, 1-0 CC) claimed its third consecutive win and benefited from six Princeton bobbles, which led to six unearned runs. The Bulldogs have committed an eye-popping 32 errors in 59 innings this season.

"We didn't strike out many times (twice), and that was our goal tonight to not strike out and put the ball in play because we knew that defense had been their weakest point," said Whitfield. "We wanted to make them throw and catch it."

The Gators parlayed five hits, five errors, a walk and a hit batsman into a 3-1 advantage through 31/2 innings. The Bulldogs (2-7, 0-2) answered with two fourth-inning runs on two Spring Creek defensive blunders, aggressive base running and a wild pitch third strike.

Spring Creek broke the tie during its next at-bat.

Princeton right-hander Forrest Stewart plunked Duane Gurganus and gave up a first-strike, RBI double to catcher Chris Nichols. Ian Ladd, who replaced Nichols at second base, trotted home two batters later on Allen Coor's sacrifice fly to center field.

The Dogs climbed to within 5-4, but could get no closer.

Logan Miller mashed a two-strike, two-RBI single in a three-run, seventh-inning uprising. A fielding error led to the Gators' other run.

"We've been preaching all year long not to beat ourselves and give (the other team) too many outs," said PHS head coach Bruce Proctor. "Plus, we had to execute on offense. Errors have been biting us."

Gurganus permitted three hits, logged two strikeouts and earned the mound win. Howell supplied three innings of no-hit, two-strikeout relief for the save.

Stewart took the loss.