Providence High’s baseball team delivered the most stunning result in the 2016 N.C. high school baseball playoffs to date, going to Hudson and beating nationally ranked South Caldwell 17-0.
The Spartans lost for just the second time in 30 games and had a 16-game win streak snapped. South Caldwell is ranked No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps. Coming into Saturday’s N.C. 4A Western regional semifinal, South Caldwell had allowed 38 runs in 29 games. No team had scored more than four runs in a single game.
“For starters,” Providence coach Danny Hignight said, “we were mentally tougher than them. We had a great plan and we executed that plan. (South Caldwell starter Rian) Haire is known as a great pitcher and he likes to intimidate people, and he ran into a club that wouldn’t be intimidated.”
Providence (28-2), which won its 10th straight, advanced to next week’s N.C. 4A Western Regional championship series against either Mecklenburg County rival Butler or North Davidson. Butler will play a regional semifinal at North Davidson Monday.
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Butler and Providence met in the regional championship last season with Providence winning and going onto to take the school’s first state championship in 20 years. Providence also made the regionals in 2014, losing to West Forsyth.
Now, the Panthers, ranked No. 14 nationally, are two 2016 regional wins from history: only one Mecklenburg County 4A team has ever reached the state final in back-to-back years. Ardrey Kell lost in the state final in 2008 and the Knights came back and won in 2009.
“We’re young, we start freshman, so it’s a good win for us,” Hignight said.
Providence jumped on South Caldwell early Saturday as Haire threw 12 straight balls. Providence scored three runs. The Panthers added another run in the second on an RBI single from Ray Torres. Later, a three-run homer from Jason Garfinkle pushed the lead to 7-0 before South Caldwell made some noise.
The Spartans broke up Logan Davidson’s no-hitter in the fifth and loaded the bases, but Davidson got out of the inning. South Caldwell loaded the bases in the sixth, but Davidson got out of danger again. In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, South Caldwell left eight base runners on the field.
In the seventh, Providence’s Jake Holtzapple got his third hit of the game. It delivered two runs and jump-started a 10-run inning.
“Logan got out of some jams,” Hignight said. “But after 13 years of (coaching), I’m never surprised. I really felt like if we could stay composed we could take advantage. So now we’ve got to take of ourselves Monday and figure out who we play and go grind. That’s what we do, man. We grind.”