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Baseball: Dylan Rosa, Phil Kunsa give Providence 1-2 punch to beat Lincoln-Way North

Updated: July 9, 2014 6:36AM



When Nick Garcia laid out to make a Web Gem catch and rob Justin Hunniford of an RBI single, Mark Smith had a bad feeling.

“You start thinking this isn’t your day,” the Providence coach said.

But as it turned out, it was the Celtics’ day. Dylan Rosa and Phil Kunsa made sure of that.

Rosa settled into a groove after a rocky start and Kunsa slugged his 11th and 12th home runs of the season Saturday as Providence pulled away for a 9-3 win over Lincoln-Way North in the Class 4A Andrew Sectional final.

The Celtics (25-14) head to the Elite Eight, where they’ll meet Edwardsville in the Champaign Supersectional at 4:30 p.m. Monday at the University of Illinois.

After Providence scratched out a run without a hit in the top of the first, Conor Grove gave North (28-3) a 3-1 lead with a three-run homer over the left-field wall in the bottom of the inning.

The Phoenix put two more runners on before Rosa got out of the inning and got a leadoff double from Garcia in the second. But then the senior right-hander settled in. He pitched three-hit ball over 61/3 innings with five walks and seven strikeouts before giving way to Brent Villasenor, who got the last two outs.

“My curveball was not there, but I started feeling the cutter,” Rosa said. “It was breaking good. It was keeping them off balance.”

“I think he was a little tight and nervous in the first inning,” Smith said. “We had a short leash on him and then he just kind of found his groove. ... We got to the point where, ‘OK, we’re going to get him out at the next baserunner,’ and then he kept getting them (down) in a row.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics were chipping away against North lefty Kyle Ostrowski. Kunsa’s first homer, a solo shot to dead center in the fourth, cut the deficit to 3-2.

“I knew that one was gone,” he said. “I squared it up perfectly.”

Jimmy Jeffries’ RBI single with one out in the fifth tied the score and Rosa gave himself the lead later in the inning with a two-out, two-run single off reliever Joey Frederickson.

Providence put the game away in the seventh. Ben Salvador, who scored the Celtics’ first run on a wild pitch, stole third and continued home on a throwing error to make it 6-3.

Then Kunsa iced it with a three-run homer to left-center that was called by Rosa.

“I was in the bullpen, I told our catcher, ‘Phil’s gonna hit a bomb right here,’” Rosa said.

“The one in left-center, I didn’t think I got all of it,” Kunsa said. “I was thinking, ‘He’s going to catch it.’”

But things are going Providence’s way these days.

“It’s astonishing,” Kunsa said. “Nobody picked us to win the first (playoff) game, let alone to win four. To come together as a team at the end and put these together, it’s not easy.”



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