No. 12 Providence brings heat in win over No. 30 Minooka



By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

JOLIET – Nothing like some good ol’ velocity to keep you warm on a 35-degree day. And the season-opener for both No. 12 Providence and No. 30 Minooka featured plenty of it.

With an array of impressive arms going for both teams, it was Providence junior RHP Jake Godfrey who stole the show as he helped power the Celtics to a 6-3 nonconference victory Saturday afternoon at Joliet Junior College.

Godfrey, who’s ranked No. 3 in Illinois’ 2014 class and No. 10 overall, certainly lived up to his lofty billing in his first outing. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Notre Dame recruit pounded the strike zone with four pitches, including a fastball that sat 90-91 mph in the first inning. He held 87-89 mph for the next three innings before tiring in the seventh.

All told, Godfrey worked 4.2 innings of relief, yielding two hits, one run with five strikeouts and one walk. At one point, he retired 11 straight batters as he consistently jammed hitters with his lively two-seamer. Godfrey got through his relief stint in 60 pitches, which also included a nasty 78-82 cutter, a 74-75 mph curveball and mixed in an occasional changeup for good measure.

“I felt good,” said Godfrey. “This was awesome to finally get outside.”

While Godfrey was the headliner, he was far from the only impressive pitcher in the game.

Providence unsigned senior RHP Yianni Pavlopoulos started the first two innings for Providence (1-0). The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder opened the first sitting 87-88 with considerable arm-side run. Minooka, which placed fourth in Class 4A last spring, jumped on Pavlopoulos for two runs in the first inning. He settled down in the second, and finished his two-inning stint after there was a lengthy umpire delay. He struck out three, walked one and allowed two hits. Pavlopoulos, who’s ranked No. 51 in Illinois’ 2013 class, is one of the top remaining arms in the state.

Minooka also featured two top-level arms. RHP Mitch Vogrin, who’s one of the top junior prospects in the state, started the game in impressive fashion. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder opened the first inning with a lively fastball in the 88-89 mph range, in addition to a late, sharp 72-73 mph curveball. The lengthy umpire delay affected Vogrin in the second inning, as he walked four batters, which led to five Providence runs.

After retiring the first batter in the second inning, Providence proceeded to score five runs without recording an out. Junior 1B Shawn Cavallone delivered a two-run single, and senior 2B Steve Gruszkowski also had a run-scoring single. In two innings, Vogrin struck out four, walked five and allowed two hits. As a sophomore, Vogrin did not allow an earned run in 35 innings pitched. Vogrin is currently ranked No. 18 in Illinois’ 2014 class and No. 82 overall.

Senior LHP Josh Mitchell, a Morehead State recruit, pitched well in relief of Vogrin, working three scoreless. Mitchell used an 82-85 mph fastball – topping at 86 - and curveball to strike out four, walk two and allowed one hit.

Senior 1B Max Brozovich had a run-scoring double in the first, and senior LF Steve Wittkamp added a run-scoring single to give Minooka a 2-0 edge.

“I was just happy to be outside,” said Providence coach Mark Smith. “We hadn’t taken a flyball outside except for one day, so I knew we would make some mistakes. … I thought Jake looked really good. He was extremely efficient. He threw five innings in 60 pitches.”

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