By GREG BURTON
Special to Southern Indiana Preps
CLARKSVILLE — Providence pitcher Joe Wilkinson threw a gem for five innings against visiting North Harrison on Saturday night, and it was exactly what his coach wanted.
The Class 3A No. 6 Pioneers played a rescheduled game against North Harrison, winning 6-2 and raising their record to 16-3.
Wilkinson, a junior right-hander, had his last outing against Jeffersonville 10 days ago, and in that game, he was roughed up fairly hard. Since that time, coach Scott Hornung has kept Wilkinson off the mound.
The rest obviously paid off. Wilkinson pitched the first 5 1/3 innings, pitching to only 17 batters. The lone baserunner reached base on an infield single that took a high hop to shortstop. He struck out eight batters and walked none.
"I am really happy about the way Joe came out and pitched tonight," said Hornung. "It was so encouraging, and I am so grateful. We took it slow the last 10 days, working him back, and he did a great job.
"I wanted him to be more consistent and dominate the strike zone. It really started with that, and he did it. They only had one baserunner on the infield hit. That's just what we needed."
Wilkinson also had a good night at the plate, smacking a ground-rule double to left-center field in the first inning. He followed that up with a solo home run to lead off the fourth inning.
The Pioneers scored once in the first. Timmy Borden hit a one-out double to get the scoring inning going. An out later, Eli Watson singled home Borden.
Providence put another run on the board in the fourth inning thanks to Wilkinson's homer, putting the Pioneers up 2-0.
The game was a pitching duel throughout each starter's time in the game. Hornung lifted Wilkinson after his hurler struck out the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth. However, North Harrison scored two unearned runs on zero hits off reliever Timmy Borden before being retired.
That tied the score at 2-2 going into the bottom of the sixth.
When the Pioneers came to bat in the sixth, North Harrison coach Cody Johnson lifted his starter, Justin Deatrick, who had given up six hits, struck out four and walked two batters.
Providence responded to the comeback by plating four runs. Zach Tackett got things going with a one-out triple. He scored when Preston Taylor hit a ground ball to short. It appeared as if Tackett was going to be thrown out. But an errant throw by shortstop Jake Book allowed the run to score.
Kaden Williams then singled, and Borden was intentionally walked to load the bases. Reece Davis and Watson singled, and then Hunter Sprigler ended the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
Borden picked up the win in relief. The Cougars’ Josh Craig, who relieved Deatrick in the sixth, absorbed the loss, falling to 2-2 on the season.
North Harrison collected just one base hit for the game.
Providence has put together a streak of easy wins recently. This game, however, appeared to be a little less intense for Hornung's crew.
"I thought that we did a nice job tonight," said Hornung. "We didn't do anything that I thought was awful, but it was like they lay around all day and waited for the game on a Saturday night. It wasn't tournament-like. We did what we had to do to win the game."
Providence collected 10 hits for the game, but they generally were scattered.
"I don't think our at-bats were very good,” Hornung said. “We had some good ones, and then we'd mix in some bad ones. We weren't moving people down the line. Not until that last inning did we put some together in a row."
Providence will play at South Central on Monday to begin the final week of the regular season. Game time is listed as 7 p.m.
PROVIDENCE 6, NORTH HARRISON 2
North Harrison 000 002 0— 2 1 2
Providence 100 104 x— 6 10 2
W — Timmy Borden (1-0). L — Josh Craig (2-2). 2B—Borden (P), Joe Wilkinson (P), Kaden Williams (P). 3B — Zach Tackett (P). HR — Wilkinson (P).
Records: Providence 16-3.
Multiple hit players: Providence — Williams 2-4, 1 R; Wilkinson 2-2, 1 R, 1 RBI; Tackett 2-3, 1 R; Eli Watson 2-4, 2 RBIs
Borden pitching line: 1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 3 BB.
Craig pitching line: 1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER.