PRINCETON — The scoreboard didn’t reflect it, but Princeton baseball coach Bruce Proctor couldn’t have been prouder of his team Friday night.
Yes, the Bulldogs had just dropped a 3-2 outcome to Carolina 1A Conference rival Hobbton, but from his demeanor, onlookers would have thought Princeton had won.
Princeton departed 4-4 overall, while dropping to 1-2 in the Carolina Conference.
Hobbton, which improved to 1-2 in Carolina Conference action, upped its overall record to 2-4.
“It was a fun ball game,” Proctor offered. “Yeah, there were mistakes, but they (Bulldogs) were competing, everybody was into it. It’s just what we do.”
It was a well-pitched game on both sides. The Wildcats pitching staff limited the Bulldogs to three hits. Princeton’s Matt Daughtry fanned nine batters without issuing a walk and scattered seven hits.
Four of those hits came back to hurt Daughtry, particularly two fifth-inning, two-out seeing-eye singles that produced the decisive run.
The first single came from Gage Herring, who enjoyed a 3-for-4 night, including a double. Herring also reached on an error. Herring moved to second on a wild pitch by Daughtry, his only mistake on the mound. Aaron Townsend then sent a sizzler into right field, scoring Herring with the winning run.
Daughtry surrendered consecutive one-out doubles in the second inning to Johnnie Knowles and Kane Whitted, enabling Hobbton to erase a 1-0 Bulldogs lead, but what hurt most were a pair of fourth inning errors that gave the Wildcats a temporary 2-1 advantage.
“You know what?” Proctor said. “I guarantee you he doesn’t think the guys behind him hurt him tonight. I guarantee you he has their back and I guarantee you they have his back.”
The Bulldogs jumped on Britt early, with leadoff batter Jonathan Croom coaxing a walk, then moving around to third base on a pair of wild pitches.
Nick Phillips then singled in Croom for the 1-0 lead.
Britt settled down, retiring nine of the next ten batters before Princeton struck again in their half of the fourth, capitalizing on a walk to Alex Harmon, followed by Britt’s third wild pitch of the contest and an RBI-single to right by Tyler Ricks to tie the game.
Prince had an opportunity to tie the game again in the sixth inning when Ricks reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but the next two batters fanned.
Princeton had a shot at tying the score in the seventh and forcing extra inning when Matt Boyette singled to left to start the inning.
But the threat died on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Craft, which Hobbton’s pitcher gobbled up just left of the mound and raced Craft to first to record the out, while Boyette took off for third, where he was thrown out to complete a double play.
“The only answer I have to any problem is to work hard,” Proctor said. “We’ve had some ups and we’ve had some downs. This is the second 3-2 game we’ve had in the conference.
“We’re 0-2 in the conference in those game. A hit and an error and we would be 2-0 and we could easily be in the catbird’s seat. But it’s early where we can change things and make things happen.”