Defending Class 2A state champion Providence aced its first road test of the young season Wednesday afternoon in the form of an 11-3 win at North Harrison.
The Cougars (0-2) drew first blood, but the Pioneers (3-0) responded with nine unanswered runs en route to its 12th consecutive victory dating back to last season. Top-ranked Providence has outscored its opponents 25-5 through three games.
“Offensively, it’s been pretty good up to this point, and our starting pitching has done well,” Providence coach Scott Hornung said. “Overall, it’s been a good start. Tonight we were a little rusty on defense. We didn’t exactly play our best game defensively out there tonight. So 3-0 and working to improve.”
The Pioneers’ Christian Graf picked up the win in his varsity debut. The sophomore was one of nine Providence players to nab a hit, spearheaded by Juston Betz, Reece Davis and Adam Uhl, who tallied two apiece.
“The good problem is I’ve got 14 or 15 guys that can actually hit the ball really well,” Hornung said. “It’s a matter of finding quality at-bats for that number of people through the first month of the season, just to see how things develop. Then hopefully by the time we get to May, we can make more decisions about a more set lineup.”
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Max Flock retired the Pioneers in order to start, and the junior gave North Harrison an early lead with a sac RBI in the bottom of the frame that scored Adam Eveslage. The one-run advantage held until the third inning.
Back-to-back walks and a Betz single loaded the bases for Providence to begin the third. Jake Lewis’ two-RBI single during the next at-bat gave the Pioneers their first lead. Hornung’s squad added three more runs in the third frame before a four-run fourth, which featured a bases-clearing double from Timmy Borden that extended the advantage to 9-1 with no outs.
“If you have a good hitting team, which I think we do, the more times they get up to the plate, the more they get to see the pitcher,” Hornung said. “I think the timing gets better.”
Flock scored Eveslage again in the fifth to snap Providence’s streak. The Cougars drove in another in the ensuing inning, but the Pioneers had an answer on both occasions. A Davis RBI double scored Borden in the seventh to seal the final score.
Providence travels to Alexandria-Monroe High School for the Tiger Classic on Saturday before a matchup at Eastern Pekin on Tuesday.
Providence 11, North Harrison 3
Providence: 005 401 1 – 11 12 4
North Harrison: 100 011 0 – 3 9 2
WP: Christian Graf, LP: Max Flock
2B: Borden (P), Uhl (P), Proctor (P), Davis (P), Armstrong (N)