MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — The Princeton WhistlePigs have come back down to Earth.
After soaring into the stratosphere with a 13-2 record in their Appalachian League debut, the Princeton franchise went through re-entry via a six-game losing streak in the waning days of June.
Their record as of Wednesday afternoon was 13-8, including a pair of losses to the Pulaski River Turtles, who closed to within a game and a half of Princeton’s perch at the top of the league’s East Division. Six of Princeton’s eight losses have taken place at home.
Both Princeton and Pulaski had the day off on Monday. Games after Tuesday are not included in this story due to deadlines.
The Pigs’ cumulative batting and pitching statistics tumbled to fourth in the 10-team league through Monday’s games. No Princeton player was listed among the top 10 individual batting averages, though Nathan Holt’s .361 mark was tied for 11th.
Holt was second in the league in stolen bases, with a remarkable 11 for 12 showing. He was also second in doubles (10) and third in hits (26).
Dylan Rogers was tied for the top spot in home runs (5), and he was tied for second in triples (3). Those extra-base exploits helped him post 18 runs batted in (fourth in the league) and 20 runs scored (fifth best).
Princeton plays tonight at Elizabethton and Saturday at Pulaski. The WhistlePigs are at home Sunday for an Independence Day game starting at noon with Pulaski.
The Pigs then will be off until Thursday, July 8, a home date with the Johnson City Doughboys.
Here’s a look at the WhistlePigs’ recent games.
Elizabethton 12, Princeton 2, on June 24. The River Riders, visiting from Tennessee, roughed up five Princeton pitchers for 17 hits, and all 12 of their runs were earned. The Pigs’ runs came via Tyshawn Barrett’s sacrifice fly in the second inning, scoring Rogers, and Tommy Myint’s solo home run in the eighth.
Elizabethton 9, Princeton 6, on June 25. The Pigs collected 12 hits to the River Riders’ 9, but left a total of 14 runners on base at the end of innings. Princeton’s Nico Popa batted 2 for 3 and drove in a pair of runs.
Pulaski 9, Princeton 8, in 10 innings on Saturday. The Pigs scored six runs in the seventh inning to tie the River Turtles 8-8, but Pulaski scored a pair of runs in the 10th on a double and an error, and Princeton fell just short of creating another tie, ending the game with a strikeout while a runner was waiting at second base.
Pulaski 4, Princeton 0, in 7 innings on Sunday. Turtles pitcher Paco Hernandez tossed all seven frames, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out seven Princeton batters. The Pigs were 0 for 2 in steal attempts while the Turtles were 3 for 3.
Kingsport 8, Princeton 7, in 10 innings on Tuesday. A tight game at Wright Stadium finished with a wild extra inning. Princeton’s Kevin Keister banged a double to left in the 10th to bring home Popa and Rogers, who had been placed on base to start the inning. But in the Axmen’s turn at bat, Kingsport tied it when, with the bases loaded, a batter walked and the next one was hit by a pitch. The contest ended soon thereafter on a walk-off RBI single from Will Spears.
Tom Bone is a freelance reporter for the Princeton Times and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph