Baseball: Providence blanks Stagg for regional crown
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org May 25, 2013 4:04PM
Providence celebrates their Class 4A regional championship win over Stagg at Sandburg High School in Orland Park Saturday, May 25, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 27, 2013 7:10AM
When his team was sitting a disappointing 9-16, having lost 15 of its last 17 games, winning a regional championship was the last thing on Providence coach Mark Smith’s mind.
On Saturday, however, Smith and the red-hot Celtics were hoisting a regional championship plaque after blanking Stagg 4-0 in the Sandburg Regional.
Providence, the No. 11 seed, has followed that ugly streak with a much better one: winning 11 of its last 12 games. The Celtics advance to their own sectional and a date Thursday with a familiar foe, Lockport.
The two teams played in March with Providence earning a 7-4 win in the championship game of the WJOL Tournament.
“I don’t know if I was all that confident we were going to win a regional title at that time, but I knew we had the pitching to compete,” Smith said. “We’re a much more confident team right now. As long as we pick up the ball and our pitchers throw strikes, we have a chance.”
Pitcher Yianni Pavlopoulos did his part, just as ace Jake Godfrey did during a 6-0 win Friday over Brother Rice. Pavlopoulos limited No. 13 Stagg to three hits and struck out five during a 106-pitch outing.
The Celtics defense also did its part, playing a flawless game behind the senior right-hander.
“We’re playing much better defense,” said Pavlopoulos, who battled some control issues with four walks and a hit batsmen. “Things weren’t going our way when we were struggling. We’re putting ourselves in better position to win games.”
Providence (20-17) wasted no time jumping on Stagg starter Ricky Rogers. The Celtics’ leadoff hitter, Brian Jenner, stroked a double into the right-center gap and scored on a triple by No. 2 hitter Billy Quirke.
Nick Sanders followed with a groundout, allowing Quirke to scamper home for a 2-0 lead after only three Celtics hitters had batted.
“It was huge to score early,” said Jenner, who was 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. “It gave us a confidence boost and got us into the flow of the game.”
Stagg mounted a rally in the third but it was ended by a questionable call by the home-plate umpire.
Peter Angelos stroked a two-out single and Mike Farnan followed with a walk. Steve Kubiak, the Chargers’ No. 3 hitter, worked the count to 3-and-2 before he was called out on a pitch that appeared at least six inches off the outside corner to end the inning. Kubiak stood stunned near home plate and coach Matt O’Neill briefly questioned the man in blue to no avail.
Stagg’s offense suffered a major blow in the fifth when Farnan who, after getting called out on a curveball and disputing the call with the home-plate umpire, was ejected from the game, leaving the Chargers without arguably their most potent bat.
Providence added to its lead with solo tallies in the fifth and sixth. A single by Sanders scored Jenner, who had walked, for a 3-0 advantage. Mike Rankin, playing shortstop, made a valiant effort on Sanders’ line drive. It deflected off his glove and allowed Jenner to trot in from third base.
Jenner’s RBI single in the sixth scored Charlie Gross (single) for a 4-0 spread.
Rogers settled down after the first inning. The left-hander went 51/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three walks. He struck out two.
Sean Dwyer, Nick Nowak and Angelos had the only hits on the day for Stagg (18-19), which stranded seven runners.