04/15/12 — Deacon Jones -- SC wins title

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Deacon Jones -- SC wins title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 15, 2012 1:52 AM

PRINCETON -- One senior class goal is accomplished.

Senior right-hander Duane Gurganus threw six solid innings and Spring Creek captured its third Deacon Jones Invitational championship in program history with an 8-3 victory over Rosewood on Friday evening.

The Gators (10-6 overall) dethroned the Eagles, who were seeking an Invitational repeat and their fifth title overall in the tournament's 11-year existence.

Senior Corey Howell, who batted 1-for-1 on the night, grabbed Most Valuable Player accolades. Gurganus earned an all-tournament nod along with fellow seniors Zach Harrell (2-for-4, RBI) and catcher Chris Nichols. Junior outfielder Luke Miller joined his teammates on the all-tournament squad.

"These seniors have never won this thing and that was one of their goals coming into this year," SC head coach Heath Whitfield said. "I thought we came out played well ... focused both nights and got the job done. I've been pleased with our intensity, focus and work ethic.

"The guys got after it and were ready to play. That overcame a lot of mistakes we did make. I thought our defense played well, especially tonight."

Spring Creek committed just one error behind Gurganus, who retired eight of nine batters during two-plus innings. He surrendered three runs (two earned) on five hits, walked three and struck out four. Logan Miller threw the seventh.

The Gators clung to a 4-2 lead through 41/2 innings and chased Rosewood southpaw Jordan Gurley from the mound in the bottom of the fifth. Miller, Harrell and Nichols each provided RBI hits during that stretch.

Courtesy runner Ian Ladd trotted home on a bases-loaded RBI walk to Logan Miller, which capped the four-run outburst.

"I think he (Gurley) may have (gotten tired), but he was still throwing good pitches there at the end," Rosewood head coach Jason King said. "He was over 90 pitches and we felt like it was time for a change. They threw the bat at it and hit it. Sometimes, you can make a great pitch and the guy still hits it.

"That's baseball."

King said the Eagles (4-9) had chances to execute, but couldn't complete the task in the 2-hour, 4-minute contest. Rosewood left runners stranded in six of seven innings and scratched out just one hit in the final four innings.

The Gators, once again, pressured the Eagles' defense with aggressive base running. Five stolen bags helped Whitfield's team put runners in scoring position on the night.

"They got the timing on our pitching and they do a really good job of getting jumps on the basepaths," King said. "We couldn't make enough plays in the field to slow them down."

Rosewood's all-tournament picks were Ian Speight, Matt Shaw and John Winslow.