By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Princeton Tigers roared through another Coppinger game on Tuesday at Bowen Field, dispatching the Nicholas County Grizzlies 14-3 in five innings to reach the semifinals of the prestigious tournament yet again.
The Tigers produced 11 hits and drew six walks, but Princeton head coach Josh Wilburn still saw room for improvement.
“I still feel like we’re struggling at the plate to really get good pitches,” Wilburn said. “Luckily, the young guys that were on the hill for Nicholas, they struggled with their curve ball, so we sat on fastballs all day.”
“I’m happy with the win, but I’m still not satisfied with how our team is playing. We were not playing Princeton baseball today.”
The Grizzlies committed four errors while managing three RBI singles and seven walks.
“You just can’t make errors,” said Nicholas County head coach Gene Morris. “We had more errors than we had hits, and you’re not going to win too many baseball games with those (statistics).”
The run-producing hits came from Tate and WIl Mayes and Peyton Nowak.
Ben Culicerto was 3 for 4 for Princeton with a solen base. He scored three runs.
“It was just be aggressive and do my thing,” Culicerto said. “Just to get up there and execute, and let my teammates drive me in, was basically the goal today.”
After Nicholas County took a 2-0 lead in the first, Princeton got its first three batters on base in the second and got all of them home.
Wil Mayes struck out two Princeton batters but three subsequent errors helped the Tigers stay alive, and Will Hickman drove two runs home with a single to right for a 6-2 lead.
Culicerto said, “We saw some opportunities unfold ... and wanted to capitalize on it. We had some guys step up big-time.”
Morris said, “The wheels kind of fell off there in the second inning and we never could quite recuperate.”
Ian Southcott ended the day 2 for 4 and scored twice for Princeton. Billy Jack Varney walked in each of his times at bat, and scored each time.
Varney said he was “just being patient, and making the most of the pitches I was dealt.”
Addison Wood took the pitching win, going three innings with five strikeouts and just two hits, though he walked five. Ryan Bayle tossed two innings of one-hit ball.
The Tigers play again today in the Coppinger semifinals, taking on Richlands at 5 p.m. at Bowen Field. The Blue Tornado booked their semifinal appearance on Saturday with a 17-2 win over Fayetteville, a West Virginia Class A school.
Wilburn said, “They’re going to throw a quality pitcher. We’re going to throw (Ian) Southcott, so I think our quality pitching is going to be there. I think it’s going to come down to timely hitting.”
“They’re a good team, and they’ve got a lot of experience in the tournament, and over the last few years, we’ve got a lot of experience. So it’s going to be a great game.”
— Contact Tom Bone at
At Bowen Field
Princeton.................063 41 — 14 11 1
Nicholas County.......200 10 — 3 3 4
Addison Wood, Ryan Bayle (4) and Brett Wall. Wil Mayes, Jimmy Pritt (4) and Tate Mayes. WP - Wood. LP - W. Mayes.