Behind an effective pitching performance from Timmy Townsend and opportunistic offense, Providence defeated North Davidson 7-2 in Game 1 of the NCHSAA Class 4-A West region final Tuesday night. Providence is ranked No. 9 nationally by MaxPreps. North Davidson is No. 8.
A sophomore, Townsend threw a complete game, allowing only five hits and two runs while striking out eight batters. The right-hander was at his best with men on base, as he stranded eight Black Knight base runners, including six in scoring position.
The loss snaps a 12-game winning streak for North Davidson, which will now travel to south Charlotte for Game 2 of the three-game series Thursday night at 7 p.m.
"I thought the difference was their pitcher. He really kept the ball out of the middle of the plate," coach Mike Meadows of North Davidson said. "I thought the strike zone was pretty big, but he pitched to it and we didn’t, so my hat is off to him because he did a great job tonight."
Offensively, the Panthers scored five of their seven runs in the fifth inning, as they took advantage of a pair of miscues by the Black Knights (26-2).
Leading 1-0 after a second inning RBI groundout by Cameron Bare, Providence started the fifth with a single from Cole Revels.
Hitting in the nine-hole, junior Jason Garfinkle laid down a sacrifice bunt in an attempt to move Revels to second base, but after a miscommunication between North Davidson starting pitcher Cole Beeker and first baseman Michael Johnson, both Revels and Garfinkle were safe.
The next batter, junior Satchel Jerzembeck, also executed a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error from Black Knights third baseman Corey Joyce allowed two runs to score and Jerzembeck to advance to second base.
After an RBI single by freshman Ray Torres gave Providence a 4-0 lead, senior Logan Davidson followed with a line-drive two-run home run to left field to give the Panthers a five-run fifth inning before recording an out.
Davidson, a Clemson commit, was named North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year on Tuesday. The shortstop now has nine home runs with a batting average over .450 this season. He is also 10-0 with a 1.28 ERA on the mound.
Trailing 6-0, North Davidson scored a run in the fifth inning on an RBI double by senior Jackson Meadows before scoring its final run on an RBI groundout by junior Joe Butts in the sixth.
After playing two playoff games in as many nights, Meadows is hopeful a day of practice today will provide his team the boost it needs heading into Thursday’s Game 2.
If necessary, Game 3 of the 4-A West regional will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at North Davidson.
"Did we have any lag from last night? I don’t think so," Meadows said. "But sometimes the pressure wears you out, too. We’ll have a good day of practice tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go Thursday."