Providence beat Hopewell 4-3 on Wednesday, reaching the second round of the NCHSAA baseball playoffs for the first time in three years.
Pitching was the key for the Panthers with starter Josh Hiatt dominating his first five innings, allowing four base runners and no runs. Several Hopewell mistakes also helped Providence claim an early lead.
With Hopewell left-hander Alon Smith on the mound, Providence base runners were attempting to steal on first movement, leading to several successful pickoffs. However, when Smith caught Sean McConoughey trying to steal second, the first baseman threw the ball away, allowing the runner to get to third. McConoughey, the courtesy runner for Hiatt, scored one batter later on a wild pitch.
Hopewell’s shaky defense hurt the Titans in the third when Andrew Fishel singled up the middle and advanced to second on a wild throw to first. He took third on a fielder’s choice, eventually coming around to score the second run of the game.
Providence also had a strong offensive output with nine hits in six innings, four of which came in the two-run fifth inning. Hiatt, who went 3-for-3 with a run, and Trevor Rhyne, 2-for-3 with an RBI, led Providence.
“I think nine hits against Alon is pretty. . . good,” said Providence coach Danny Hignight. “He’s a real good arm. Good breaking ball, good velocity from the left side.”
Down 4-0 in the sixth, Hopewell strung together some offense with the combination of hitting and Providence mistakes. The Titans led off the inning with two singles, two errors and a fielder’s choice – scoring a run and ending Hiatt’s night.
Providence’s reliever Tommy Dejuneas allowed three straight base runners and two runs, but closer Matt Ball ended a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout.
Ball earned the save in the seventh by retiring the side in order.
Providence improved to 23-4 and will play Alexander Central on Friday in Taylorsville. Providence beat Alexander Central 7-1 in March.
“We’re going back to the drawing board,” Hignight said. “We’re just happy to get to round 2.”
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less