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Baseball: Providence outlasts Sandburg 5-3

The Providence players mob Jake Godfrey after their victory over Sandburg June 5 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

The Providence players mob Jake Godfrey after their victory over Sandburg, June 5, 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 7, 2014 6:43AM



Providence right fielder Phil Kunsa had no doubt he was going to catch a line drive headed for right-center field that would have scored two runs and given Sandburg the lead during Thursday’s Class 4A Andrew Sectional semifinal.

Celtics coach Mark Smith, however, wasn’t nearly as confident.

“When I saw the ball hit, I’m saying to myself, ‘Oh, no,’ ” Smith said. “It looked like the ball was sinking and sinking. It was an incredible catch. If he doesn’t make that catch, we might not win the game.”

Kunsa’s diving catch preserved a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning and Providence tacked on an insurance run in its half of the seventh to close out a 5-3 win over Sandburg.

The Celtics (24-14) will play Lincoln-Way North (28-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday for the sectional title.

“There was no doubt in my mind I had it,” Kunsa said. “Right off the bat, I knew I had to make a play on it. I gave 100 percent and hoped it would be good enough.”

Providence scored four runs — all unearned — in the third against Sandburg starting pitcher Sean Leland to grab a 4-0 lead.

An error on a grounder off the bat of Jimmy Jeffries ignited the outburst. Ben Salvador was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Leland struck out the next two batters, but he hung a breaking ball that Kunsa slapped to left field for an RBI single. Cam Galgano added a two-run single and Jake Godfrey a run-scoring single for the 4-0 spread.

“One big inning,” Smith said. “We got some big hits.”

With the way Godfrey was pitching, it appeared the four-run cushion was more than enough.

Sandburg (24-9), however, chipped away, scoring one run in the fifth on a fielder’s choice grounder by Dan Santiago that cut the deficit to 4-1.

Then in the sixth, Jim Roche singled, Chris Stearns was hit by a pitch and Alec Martinez walked to load the bases with no outs.

Godfrey retired the next two hitters before Mike Jentel singled to right, scoring two runs and cutting the lead to 4-3. Jentel and Martinez advanced a base on the throw home, putting runners on second and third.

That set up Kunsa’s catch on the next play.

Back-to-back triples off the bats of Galgano and Godfrey in the seventh off Eagles reliever Matthias Dietz made it 5-3.

“It’s a tough way to go out,” Sandburg coach Jim Morsovillo said. “We had one bad inning. I’m proud of the kids coming back when we were chasing four (runs). Their kid made a phenomenal catch.



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