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Baseball: Crazy finish as Lincoln-Way Central holds off Providence

Providence third baseman Steve Gruszkowski leaps make throw first try get Lincoln-Way Central runner. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media

Providence third baseman Steve Gruszkowski leaps to make a throw to first to try to get a Lincoln-Way Central runner. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 11, 2013 6:36AM



When the need arises, Providence has made a habit of rallying in the seventh inning to pull games out of the fire.

But Tuesday at Tom Dedin Field, the baseball gods threw a curveball.

Providence’s Devin Williams was called for interference for sliding outside the basepath and into shortstop Mac Leska on a force play that would have tied the score in the bottom of the seventh. Instead, the double play, hotly disputed by Celtics coach Mark Smith, ended the game as Lincoln-Way Central escaped with a thrilling 5-4 victory.

“It was a crazy finish, crazier than I wanted it to be,” said Central coach Scott Gardner, whose team led all the way.

“It never should have come down to that (game-ending double play),” Smith said. “If you take five innings to wake up, this is what happens. They came out ready to play, and we dug our own hole.”

The No. 5 Celtics (7-2) scored once in the fifth, twice in the sixth and already had one across in the seventh when it ended.

“They’re battlers, for sure,” said Central right-hander Ryan Kahne, who worked the first five-plus innings for the victory before Kevin Mampe pitched the last two for the save.

“I’m pretty excited. I’ve pitched against them before but hadn’t really done too well. (Tuesday) I had command, was able to spot my stuff.”

Kahne said he was getting tired when he was pulled in the sixth. Williams and Devin Rosa had doubled around an error to open the inning where the Knights (6-3) saw their four-run lead shrink to 5-3.

“Mampe picked me up real well,” Kahne said.

The other pick-me-up came from the Central offense, which managed single runs in the first, third and fourth against Providence right-hander Jake Godfrey and added two runs against the bullpen in the top of the sixth that turned out huge.

In one of the strangest rallies you will see, Pat Michalak led off with his second hit, the next three batters were hit on consecutive pitches to force in one run and a hit batsman with two outs knocked in the other run.

“Jake did not have his good stuff, but he kept us in the game,” Smith said. “Our ’pen has to do a better job. If we lose with them hitting it all over the park, I can accept it. But to give up two runs on one hit and not make any errors in the inning, that’s hard to swallow.”

“I don’t recall that ever happening,” Gardner said. “But we have guys who will do whatever it takes.”

In addition to Michalak, Lucas Jones and Mampe had two of the Knights’ nine hits. They had plenty of runners, stranding 11.

“I’m real happy with our team effort offensively,” Gardner said. “Their pitcher (Godfrey) is good. We got some soft hits that found holes, but they count.

“Kahne threw well, too. He was around the zone all day, threw strikes for the most part.”

Williams had two of Providence’s eight hits and drove in the seventh-inning run. Cam Galgano doubled.



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