Written by Laieke Abebe
TARBORO — Defense and timely pitching got the job done for Princeton in the opening round of the N.C Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs.
The eleventh-seeded Bulldogs went on the road and took down sixth-seeded Tarboro, 5-1 on Tuesday evening at Municipal Stadium.
It’s a big victory for the Bulldogs after their regular-season finale loss to Rosewood put the Bulldogs playoff hopes in doubt.
“Their pitcher threw really well, but our guys were ready,” Princeton head coach Noah Edens said. “We had some good swings at the plate that didn’t go our way, but we hung in there. Grey Gurganious and Wesley Massey did well on the mound and got some timely outs when we needed them most.”
Gurganious got the win on the mound by throwing four innings, striking out six batters, and allowing one unearned run. Massey threw the final three frames and did not give up a hit.
A pair of groundouts from Ethan Potts and Trace Hickman was the key for the Bulldogs in the early innings. While Tarboro managed to get the bases loaded, Tarboro was unable to take advantage thanks to a number of good defensive plays from the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the fifth leaving a couple of Vikings stranded. In addition, Hickman threw out a base runner trying to steal second in the bottom of the sixth.
Tarboro had a number of chances to score, but Massey closed the final inning with a flourish. Princeton advances to the second round where the Bulldogs will travel to East Carteret on Thursday.
“We have to get back on that bus and go to work,” Edens said about the upcoming matchup. “Our pitchers must throw strikes and we have to execute at the plate.”