One of Mecklenburg County’s most competitive high school baseball rivalries renewed itself Friday as the Providence Panthers traveled to Ardrey Kell to play the first of two regular-season games with the Knights.
The rivalry game did not disappoint. Providence broke open a close game late in an 8-6 win over Ardrey Kell. The Panthers are unbeaten overall at 8-0 and in the SoMeck 8 conference at 4-0.
Leading 8-4 going to the bottom of the seventh inning, the Knights started a rally that eventually fell short. A single and a walk off of Panthers’ relief pitcher Tim Townsend, made Providence manager Danny Hignight call on senior Zach Brown.
Brown quickly yielded a single to Ardrey Kell’s Ryan Henry to load the bases with no outs, followed by an RBI single by second baseman Alex Featherstone. Brown then hit McKinnon Garner with a pitch to force in another run, and the Providence lead fell to two runs.
The Knights (5-3, 2-2) still had the bases loaded with no outs. But with the meat of the Ardrey Kell lineup coming up, Brown hunkered down to close out the game. He got the next three Knights’ batters to fly out, strike out and fly out to earn the save.
“I was a little rocky but I just wanted to come in, throw a few strikes and get ahead of guys,” said Brown. His best out was striking out Ardrey Kell star slugger Cameron Bradley. “I just tried to throw strikes, get him to chase some stuff, and to pitch to my strengths instead of to his weaknesses.”
Providence starting pitcher Logan Davidson didn’t have his best outing on the mound, but he more than made up for it at the plate. The North Carolina commit went 3-for-4 with four RBIs including a pair of doubles and a single. Davidson went 3 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs, while striking out four and walking four.
“Our guys played hard, they grinded, they were mentally tough and I’m proud of them,” said Hignight. “We’ve got a good club, they’ve got a good club and we just figured out a way to win.”
Davidson hit two batters early in the game, prompting a warning from the home-plate umpire.
Three who mattered
Providence sophomore relief pitcher Tim Townsend pitched 2 1/3 innings, yielding only one hit while striking out three and walking three to earn the decision.
Ardrey Kell starting pitcher Henry Ryan went 3-for-4 with two RBIs on a double and a pair of singles at the plate.
Providence third baseman Jake Holtzapple was intentionally walked twice and finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs on a pair of singles.
They said it
“We’re a resilient group, we lost to a quality ball club, it’s early in the season, it’s a long season and we’re in the season for the duration, not just tonight’s game. We’re going to be fine.” – Ardrey Kell manager Hal Bagwell
Ardrey Kell will play Tuesday at Berry at 6:30 p.m. while Providence will host Myers Park Saturday at 3:30 p.m.