State Baseball Semifinals: After tough call, things go Providence’s way
By Sean Duncan For Sun-Times Media June 13, 2014 10:10PM
Providence's Dylan Rosa pitches against Prairie Ridge in the semi-final game played at Silver Cross Field, Joliet. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
CLASS 4A State
(at Silver Cross Field, Joliet)
Providence 8, Prairie Ridge 7
St. Rita 3, South Elgin 2
Championship: Providence (27-14)
vs. St. Rita (37-4), 5:30 p.m.
Third place: Prairie Ridge (24-17)
vs. South Elgin (24-11), 3 p.m.
Updated: June 14, 2014 3:14PM
At quick glance, Providence seems an unlikely candidate to be playing for the Class 4A state championship. An up-and-down season saw the Celtics lose 14 games and finish fifth in the tough Catholic League Blue.
But after enduring a potentially devastating controversial call in the first inning, Providence held off Prairie Ridge 8-7 on Friday in a Class 4A state semifinal at Silver Cross Field to continue an incredible playoff run in which the Celtics have knocked off one ranked opponent after another.
“I didn’t think we would be here right now,” senior right-handed pitcher Dylan Rosa said of the Celtics’ roller-coaster season. “It’s going our way right now.”
The Celtics (27-14), who won the state championship in 1982, will meet St. Rita (37-4) for the state title at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
It was far from easy on Friday. Providence finally broke through against Prairie Ridge left-hander Austin Covers in the fifth inning with two runs to tie the game at 2-2. The Celtics proceeded to pile on six runs in the sixth, only to see Prairie Ridge (24-17) mount a furious comeback in the top of the seventh against Rosa, who had allowed only one hit through six innings, and star right-hander Jake Godfrey.
Having cut the lead to 8-7, Prairie Ridge had runners on first and second, but Godfrey got a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
“It was a microcosm of our entire season,” Providence coach Mark Smith said. “My slogan is — and the kids love it — it’s just what we do. We don’t make anything easy.”
After Prairie Ridge scored a run to open the game, Providence suffered a tough blow in the bottom of the first.
Outfielder Phil Kunsa, who entered the game with 11 homers, 12 doubles and 46 RBI, collided with Prairie Ridge first baseman Marcus Sargeant on a throw up the baseline. Kunsa raised his arms to brace himself, and the umpire interpreted it as malicious contact and ejected Kunsa from the game.
The ejection means Kunsa also will be out for the state championship game.
“I thought it was a terrible call,” Smith said. “We will appeal it.”
It also looked like the call affected the Celtics as Covers shut down the Providence offense for four innings.
In the fifth, the Celtics’ fortunes shifted. Godfrey led off the inning with a routine grounder to third, but at the last second it took a bad hop over Cal Aldridge’s head and Godfrey had a double. A bloop single by Justin Hunniford and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third.
With sophomore Zach Pych down 0-2 in the count, Covers made a good pitch that could’ve been called strike three but he didn’t get the call. Pych then delivered a two-run single in which he wrist-flicked the ball to right field to tie the game at 2-2.
Providence exploded for six runs on six hits in the sixth, capped by a Rosa two-run single. Rosa, who struck out six, walked four and allowed five earned runs, finished 2-for-3. Godfrey and Hunniford also had two hits and an RBI.
Sargeant drove in two runs in the first three innings to give Prairie Ridge a 2-0 lead. Covers had a two-run hit in the Wolves’ five-run seventh inning.
“You have to be good to get here,” Smith said. “Except us. I guess we’re just lucky.”