The Providence Panthers weren’t interested in another home game.
So they wrapped up the N.C. 4A West Region baseball title with a 5-0 win against Butler on the Bulldogs’ field to earn a 2-0 sweep in the best-of-three series. Providence (29-3) took care of business like it has more often than not this season.
“It was real important to get some rest and just know we’re safe going into the state championship,” said Panthers third baseman Jake Holtzapple, who went 3-for-3 with a run batted in. “It’s just amazing.”
Providence broke the game open with a three-run seventh inning highlighted by Holtzapple’s run-scoring double and a pair of Butler errors that led to a couple of runs. The result gave Providence a comfortable advantage while leaving Butler fewer options for a rally against winning pitcher Austin Leonard, who limited the Bulldogs to four hits.
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“It was big,” Holtzapple said. “To go into that inning and get some support runs for Lenny. It was big knowing we had a few more runs to play around with.”
Butler had opportunities to ignite its offense, but Leonard held the Bulldogs in check when runners got on base. Providence, however, used its guile and speed to force Butler into defensive mistakes that produced three runs.
“We just tried to execute on those and take advantage of what they were doing,” Holtzapple said. “Just play like we know how to do.”
For the second time in the series, Providence opened the first with an advantage when Andrew Moritz singled, Holtzapple advanced him with a sacrifice bunt and Josh Hiatt delivered a run-inducing double. A Butler throwing error in the second allowed Andrew Fishel to score after reaching on a single and the Bulldogs couldn’t recover.
“We’ve got some young guys playing,” Bulldogs coach Rick Sambrotto said. “Tate (Pennington, Butler’s starting pitcher) was on the mound and we’re facing college pitchers. We got some base runners and we thought we could run on them tonight. We were right there. I think it was a little bit of inexperience and the fact (Providence has) been there before.”