Deacon Jones Invitational: Jackson collars Bulldogs
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 17, 2014 1:48 PM
PRINCETON -- Princeton couldn't solve Tommy Jackson on Wednesday evening.
Jackson had full command of his arsenal, mixed speeds and tossed a complete game during North Johnston's 8-1 triumph on opening day of the 2014 Deacon Jones Invitational.
The left-hander logged 10 strikeouts for the Panthers, who will play for the DJI championship for the first time since 2009. They face Rosewood in the title contest today at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs, the 2013 Invitational champions, square off against Spring Creek for third place at 4 p.m.
"He looked good, didn't he?" Princeton head coach Bruce Proctor said of Jackson. "He hit his spots, changed his speeds and did a good job. We're not happy about it, but we've got to tip our cap and move on."
Jackson retired nine consecutive batters at one point and limited Princeton to four hits during the 2-hour, 4-minute affair. The Bulldogs scratched out their lone run on Patrick Norris' one-out single in the bottom of the second inning.
Proctor praised his team's effort, enthusiasm and attitude, but said they failed to display a 'team approach' in the batter's box. Princeton stranded nine men on base and struck out on four occasions with runners in scoring position.
"One of the things we talk about at the plate in our approach is the first two strikes are for you, and the last strike is for the team," Proctor said. "Regardless of what happens, you've got to put it in play. Because we didn't do those swings for the team, it's selfish.
"And if you're selfish, we're not going to be successful."
The Bulldogs biggest threat to challenge the Panthers occurred in the fifth inning. Starting right-hander Matt Daughtry wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam with consecutive strikeouts and appeared to get some help offensively in the bottom half of the inning.
Jon Croom and Matt Edwards drew back-to-back walks against Jackson. But a strikeout and infield pop-up squelched the rally.
North Johnston (6-8 overall) answered during its next at-bat with a four-run outburst that included Tanner Snipes' two-run bomb over the left-field fence. Snipes' lone hit of the night gave Jackson a comfortable seven-run cushion.
"We had two good hitters up and we didn't push them across," Proctor said. "Boom, the home run deflates you. It was like someone hit us in the gut with that one."
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