BY GREG BURTON
Special to Southern Indiana Preps
CLARKSVILLE — Providence junior Christian Graf did a whole lot on Friday night against visiting Avon.
Graf did not do everything, but his contributions to the 6-2 win were impressive and significant.
First, he picked up his third win on the mound for the season without a loss. He did so in outstanding fashion, pitching six shutout innings, surrendering only three base hits — all singles - while striking out four and issuing just two bases on balls.
"Christian had a great night," said Providence coach Scott Hornung, who saw his team up its record to 9-1 on the season. The performance was not just good in itself, but it helped the team in another way.
"We're mending arms right now and trying to work through it. It's good to have that security blanket right there," said Hornung.
Graf's work was not confined to his pitching duties, however. He also had a big night at the plate, going to 2-for-3. Each of his hits were for extra bases, with a double in the third inning and a two-run homer in the fifth.
"We changed the lineup around a little bit tonight," said Hornung. "We moved him (Graf) up to No. 5 in the lineup because he had been hitting so good. It's good to see he's doing that for us, too."
For the second consecutive game, the Pioneers struck for two runs in their first at-bat, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Kaden Williams led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single. The next batter, Adam Uhl, was hit by a pitch, sending Williams to second. Timmy Borden then smacked a double, scoring Williams and Uhl for a 2-0 lead.
"It makes things better, and you can do a lot coaching by jumping out to an early lead," said Hornung.
The Class 3A No. 9 Pioneers plated two more runs in the third. Borden led off by being hit by a pitch. One out later, Graf doubled, sending Borden to third. Borden then scored on an RBI groundout to second by Joe Wilkinson. Josh Tackett then singled home Graf to make the advantage, 4-0.
Providence scored its final two runs in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Eli Watson walked. Graf came to the plate and smacked a homer to the gap in left-center field, scoring Nick Sexton, a pinch runner for Watson, along with himself.
This knocked out Avon starter Austin Baugh (0-1). It also ended Providence's scoring for the day.
Graf cruised throughout the game. He faced only 23 batters in six innings of work.
Tackett relieved Graf in the final inning. Graf had thrown about 85 pitches, and Hornung was not interested in overthrowing his hurler early in the season.
Avon (8-3) finally scored in the top of the seventh. Bishop Akers drove in Conner Albert with a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-1. Albert had struck out to open the inning, but had gotten on base when the third strike was a wild pitch. He then moved to second on a throwing error on an attempted pick-off play, and then he advanced to third on a single by Parker Sutton.
Sutton scored the second run on a single by Luke Shayotovich.
Tackett closed down the Orioles by striking out Kyren Power to end the game.
"It was a solid performance by a good team," said Hornung.
Providence will play at home against Class 4A No. 4 Jeffersonville at 7 on Monday evening.
PROVIDENCE 6, AVON 2
Avon 000 000 2—2 5 0
Providence 202 202 x—6 6 3
W — Christian Graf (3-0). L — Austin Baugh (0-1). 2B — Timmy Borden (P), Graf (P). HR — Graf (P).
Records: Providence 9-1, Avon 8-3.
Multiple hit players: Providence — Graf 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBIs.
Graf’s pitching line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 K, 2 BB.
Baugh’s pitching line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 K, 2 BB.