Prep Baseball Report

No. 11 Providence Sweeps No 19 North Florida Christian and No. 8 Venice

Phil Kerber
PBR Florida/JUCO Wire

JACKSONVILLE, FL - THe Tournament of Champions began Friday afternoon at host sites Trinity Christian Academy and Providence School. PBR Florida Executive Director Doug Freeman was at Trinity Christian on Friday to recap all the action from there.

No. 11 Providence welcomed to top 20 teams in state to their house, No. 19 North Florida Christian (NFC) and No. 8 Venice. Both games were highly competitive matchups featuring high profile prospects. In Game 1, NFC battled back from an early deficit against Providence, but it was a two run sixth inning home run by C Nathan Hickey (Florida recruit) that would prove to be the difference. Providence would take the game 7-6.

The Stallions took the lead over NFC right from the get-go when 3B Tyler Callihan (South Carolina recruit) took one deep over the outfield fence for a solo home run. C Carson Neal (Valdosta State recruit) would answer for NFC immediately in the second inning with a leadoff home run of his own, making it 1-1.

Providence would come right back though with two runs in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by a Brady Ortman double down the left line. The Stallions would add another run apeice in the bottom of the third and fourth innings as well to extend their lead to 5-1. Ortman, Callihan and CF Tucker Talbott (Florida recruit) all picked up their second hits of the game during this run.

Things started to get interesting in the top of the fifth when NFC saw a crack in Providence starter RHP Cutter Cannon. Cannon had held a potent NFC offense in check through four innings. The Eagles were able to string together a number of singles and take care of some poor defensive play by Providence to claw their way back into it. Providence was forced to go through three relief pitchers in the inning before Callihan was able to come in and stop the bleeding at 5-5.

Things would not remain tied for long. Callihan made easy work of the NFC lineup, setting up a tense bottom of the sixth. Josh Gray (Tallahassee recruit) started the inning off with a bloop single. Callihan was unable to reach base for the fourth time in four at-bats, bringing up the ever dangerous power hitter Nathan Hickey. Hickey decided enough was enough and put a charge in one. The left-handed hitter knew right off the bat that the ball was leaving the yard. The Stallions took the 7-5 lead with three outs to go and Callihan on the mound to close it out.

Callihan had his work cut out for him. The NFC offense rallied in the top of the seventh. A single by Posey and an error on a Josiah Miller (Florida State recruit) ground ball gave the Eagles two men on and one out. Major Posey (UCF recruit) added an RBI single to cut the lead to 7-6. That was all NFC could muster though. Callihan would get the next two batters out and preserve the 7-6 victory for Providence.

Game 2 saw No. 11 Providence welcome No. 8 Venice to town. Providence starter Sr. RHP Ben Weeks (uncommitted) outdueled Venice RHP Orion Kerkering (South Florida recruit) in a 6-2 game.


Venice struck first when C Mac Guscette (Florida recruit) came around to score on a wild pitch in the top of the first innning. Providence answer right back with two runs in the bottom of the first. Talbott knocked one in on a double and So. Sam Gonzalez got the other in.

Kerkering did a nice job settling in after the first inning. The lanky righty gave Providence trouble with the amount of sliders he was offering up, and then mixing in a low 90s running fastball.
Guscette tied the ball game up in the top of the third when he led off the inning with a solo home run, bringing it to 2-2. You can’t keep the Stallions offense quiet for long though. Providence was able to regain the lead in the fourth inning, and then extended things in the sixth when they needed it most. The Stallions strung together four consecutive singles out of the 6-7-8-9 spots of the order to put a up three runs in the bottom of the sixth and seal the game, 6-2.

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