The Rosewood Eagles defeated the Princeton Bulldogs 3-0 on Thursday night in a game where the Eagles took an early lead and never looked back.
Root Merritt started the game on the mound for the Eagles, and he seemingly got off to a good start when he forced Princeton batter Daniel Kornegay to hit into what could have been the first out of the game.
However, a defensive error allowed Kornegay to reach first base safely, which put a runner on first with no outs, but Merritt didn’t let the error affect his confidence on the mound, and he struck out the next two batters to quickly earn two outs.
The Eagles earned the third out of the inning during the next at-bat when Kornegay was tagged out trying to steal second base.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Eagles came out swinging, and Cam Medlin and Landon Tyndall opened up the game with back-to-back singles.
On the next at-bat, Anderson Clucas hit an RBI single to get Medlin home and make the score 1-0.
Before the next at-bat, courtesy runner Josh Lupo replaced Tyndall at second base, and during the next at-bat, Wyatt Lassiter hit an RBI double, which gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead with no outs.
Princeton finally earned its first out of the inning during the next at-bat. Clucas tried to come home from third base when Merritt hit a groundball, but Clucas was tagged out at the plate by the Princeton catcher while Merritt advanced to first base.
Worth Best came up to bat next for the Eagles, and he hit a hard ground ball down the third base line to earn an RBI single and allowed Lassiter to cross home plate.
With the Eagles leading 3-0 in the first inning with two runners on base and just one out, Rosewood had a great opportunity to take a sizable lead early in the game, but Princeton pitcher Landon Murphy was determined not to let that happen, and he was able to force Rosewood batter Jose Vega to hit into an inning-ending double play.
More from this section
After the first inning came to a close, not a single run was scored for the rest of the game as Merritt and Murphy finished the game with an epic pitching duel in which neither team came close to scoring.
Ultimately, Merritt came out on top as he finished off a complete game shutout in the bottom of the seventh inning by forcing three straight groundouts to help lift Rosewood to a 3-0 victory.
For the game, Merritt finished with seven strikeouts, five hits and no runs allowed in seven innings pitched.
Rosewood head coach Justin Willoughby said he was proud of how Merritt aggressively attacked the Princeton batters with strikes down the middle of the plate.
“Root Merritt threw a heck of a game,” Willoughby said. “He just commanded the strike zone and gave himself a chance to be successful. That’s all you can ask of a pitcher. He didn’t walk anybody … (he gave) no free bases (away), and that’s what we are trying to do as a team.”
Merritt said that the biggest key to his success was his confidence in his teammates on defense which allowed him to throw the ball in the strike zone.
“(The key was) just not being scared of them … throwing it in the zone, and feeling confident that the guys behind me are going to make the plays they need to make,” Merritt said.
With the win, Rosewood improved to 4-1 overall, and Princeton fell to 0-4 with the loss.
Rosewood will travel to Eastern Wayne (1-4) on Monday at 5 p.m., while Princeton will host Wilson Christian Academy (2-0) on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.