Article and photo from Laieke Abebe
Timely hitting and defensive plays proved to be the difference-maker for Princeton. However, unlike the opening round, it did not favor the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs gave up a six-run second inning, all with two outs, in a 9-5 loss to East Carteret on Thursday. This loss eliminated the 11th seeded Bulldogs from the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs.
“They put together a couple of good at-bats,” Princeton head coach Noah Edens said. “There are nine guys out there, and they hit the ball where we weren’t standing. Even then, we didn’t play well, and we picked a bad night to have a bad night.”
Despite going down 6-0 after two innings, the Bulldogs responded well. Trace Hickman’s two-run single and another RBI from Tyler Thompson cut the deficit to three in the bottom of the third.
The Mariners would tack on a pair of runs before Jacob Barnes’ two-out, two-run base hit cut East Carteret’s lead back down to 8-5. However, that’s as close as Princeton would get.
The Bulldogs put multiple base runners on in the final innings but could not scratch across a run. Princeton graduates a number of key contributors to a team that finished the season 9-6.
Thompson, Hickman, Barnes, Grey Gurganious, Ethan Potts, Nate Starling, and Jacob McCain are among the several seniors who played a vital role in the Bulldogs’ run to the state playoffs.
“They did everything that I asked of them,” Edens said about his senior core. “It’s been a year of adversity, and the kids responded well to it. They’ve been great contributors to the Princeton baseball program, and they’re high character kids.”