PRINCETON — It doesn’t necessarily matter where you bat in the line up. What is more important is when and how you perform at that position.
Rosewood proved that point Thursday night, utilizing the bottom half of its line up in pounding North Johnston, 12-0, for the championship of the Deacon Jones Invitational baseball tournament at Princeton High School.
The Eagles of the Carolina 1A Conference exited with an 11-4 record following its back-to-back demolitions of tournament opposition.
Wednesday, the Eagles routed Carolina Conference leader Spring Creek, 10-0 in five innings, handing the Gators their second loss of the season.
North Johnston of the Eastern Plains 2A Conference departed with a 6-9 ledger, having defeated tournament host and rival Princeton, 8-1, Wednesday.
“We have to show that we can go out and play with the same intensity that we did with Princeton,” said Panthers coach Brian Ford. “We have to bring that intensity every time we play.”
Rosewood brought that intensity, particularly in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring four and five runs, respectively, in blowing a tight game wide open.
Consecutive singles by the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in the Eagles’ order, along with a single from lead off hitter Jordan Lynn and a double off the bat of tournament MVP Reed Howell, produced four runs in the sixth, turning a 3-0 contest into a 7-0 bulge. Howell was 3-for-4 for the game, the only member of the top four in the Eagles order to consistently produce.
Singles from Brent Breedlove (2-for-3), Boone Moody (2-for-2), a walk to Davis Jones (1-for-1) and a bases-loaded triple from Jason Dubose (2-for-2, 4 RBIs) put the finishing touches on the contest in the seventh.
Bryce McKeel, batting fifth in the Eagles lineup, had 3 walks and scored 3 runs.
“The difference in the ball game was our pitchers,” Ford said.”We fell behind about every hitter. You can make an average hitter into a great hitter if you fall behind 2-0, 3-0 in the count. You’re basically telling them every pitch you’re going to throw them in those situations – and hitting can be contagious.”
The Panthers managed only two hits on the game, both by all-tournament selection Tanner Snipes, who was joined on the elite squad by fellow Panthers Michael Stott and Tommy Jackson.
Despite the lack of hitting, the Panthers left seven runners on base, courtesy of four walks and a dropped third strike, but managed only one runner to third base.