BY GREG BURTON
Special to Southern Indiana Preps
CLARKSVILLE — A regular pitchers' duel ensued at Providence on Thursday night, at least for the major part of the game.
The Class 3A No. 6 Pioneers hooked up with defending Class A state champion Lanesville, and for the first five innings, hits were at a premium as were runs. Neither team was able to muster much in those innings, and at the end of five the score stood 1-1. Each team's run was unearned.
Providence, however, sent 10 batters to the plate in the sixth inning, scoring six runs. The Pioneers won the game 7-1, advancing their season record to 20-3. This was their last regular-season game. They will play host Silver Creek in the first round of the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional next Thursday evening at 5:30.
Lanesville starter Mitchell Bailey kept the Pioneers off-balance through the first five innings, allowing just four hits.
"I don't really know what the struggle was," said Providence coach Scott Hornung. "It was a good pitcher and he did a great job. So I'm going to start by complimenting him by being able to throw the pitches he wanted to throw in various counts to keep us off-stride.
At the same time, Providence starter Nathan Proctor, despite not being sharp, held Lanesville (11-11) at bay for the first 4 2/3 innings, holding the Eagles to just three hits.
"Nathan did a good job on the mound tonight. He really did not have quite as good of breaking pitches as he has had recently, so he battled," Hornung complimented his starter.
Lanesville got on the board first, scoring an unearned run in the fifth. Owen Kerr, who had reached base on a fielder's choice, scored on an error by third baseman Hunter Sprigler, making it 1-0.
Providence got the run back in the bottom of the fifth. Kaden Williams walked with one out. He then stole second base. Williams later stole third and then scampered home on the errant throw by catcher Noah Jones. This tied the game at 1-1.
The Pioneers finally kicked their offense into high gear in the sixth inning. Reece Davis walked to lead off the inning. Joe Wilkinson followed with a pop fly to right field that Lanesville right fielder Ethan Purdy did not see, giving Wilkinson a single and putting runners on first and second.
Proctor followed with a walk, loading the bases. With the infield drawn in and no one out, Adam Uhl hit a ball to short, which shortstop Zack Fink attempted to short hop. But Fink misplayed it, scoring pinch runner Landon Kruer. This put the Pioneers up 2-1.
Zack Tackett struck out, throwing a little water on the fire, but it was short-lived.
Preston Taylor walked, scoring another run. Williams then hit a grounder to second, which scored Wilkinson. Lanesville could get just one out, and this put Providence up 4-1.
The big blow came next off the bat of Timmy Borden. The senior banged one off the left-field fence, driving in two more runs to make the score 6-1.
The final score of the night came next when Eli Watson smacked a single, scoring Borden and gaining the final score of 7-1.
"I felt like we were always going to win, and we weren't acting like we needed to come on with it," said Hornung. "The inning we scored those runs, we at least had some at-bats where we put the ball into play and made things happen. Sometimes that's what you have to do to get things started.
"We were still down to a situation where it was only 2-1, and we had a strikeout with the bases loaded. And then Preston walked, and Timmy's hit broke it open after that.”
Proctor was relieved with two outs in the fifth inning by Sprigler, who finished the night and picked up his first win.
"I was happy about Hunter," said Hornung. "That was really his first varsity experience where he's come in in a tight situation, and he threw the ball well, so I was happy for him."
The Pioneers have had a busy three weeks at the end of the season, and Hornung is looking forward to his team resting before playing in the tournament.
"We need a week off," said Hornung. "We'll get a quick practice (Friday), take two days off this weekend, go three days practice next week, and then we'll see what'll happen."
Lanesville will face Southern Athletic Conference rival Henryville in the opener of the Class 2A Clarksville Sectional at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
PROVIDENCE 7, LANESVILLE 1
Lanesville 000 010 0—1 4 3
Providence 000 016 x—7 8 1
W — Hunter Sprigler (1-0). L — Mitchell Bailey (3-4). 2B — Timmy Borden (P).
Records: Providence 20-3, Lanesville 11-11.
Multiple hit players: Providence — Joe Wilkinson 2-3, 1 R.
Sprigler pitching line: 2 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB.
Bailey pitching line: 5 2/3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 2 K, 3 BB.