Prep Baseball Report

No. 6 Providence comes out hot vs. De La Salle

By Sean Duncan

NEW LENOX – Consistent hitting has been No. 6 Providence Catholic’s chief concern early this season. But on Tuesday, while facing one of the state’s top right-handed prospects in De La Salle’s Pat Haynes, the Celtics showed glimpses of last year’s squad that mashed its way to a state runner-up finish.

Providence jumped on Haynes for four runs in the first two innings and held on to defeat De La Salle 6-5 in a Chicago Catholic League crossover game.

“I’m still unsure what this team is capable of,” said Providence coach Mark Smith, whose talented squad entered the spring as preseason No. 1. “Today we were much more aggressive at the plate, which was good. But it was our worst defensive game all year.”

Providence (12-4, 4-0) came out hot against Haynes, who was pumping 88-91 mph fastballs in the first inning. Bradley-bound outfielder Brady Wilkin (2-for-3, 2 runs) opened the bottom of the first by squaring a 90-mph fastball to dead-center for a misplayed triple. Shortstop Branden Boggetto was then hit by a pitch, and starting pitcher Zak Kutsulis followed with a two-run double to center field. The Celtics made it 3-0 on Arizona-bound Ryan Koziol’s sacrifice fly.

Boggetto, who’s signed at Southeast Missouri State, had a run-scoring single in the second inning and later staked the Celtics to a 6-2 advantage in the fourth when he launched a two-run homer to centerfield.

While there were a handful of pro scouts on hand to see the 6-foot-3 Haynes, Kutsulis (4-1) seized the opportunity to show off his impressive three-pitch mix. Kutsulis, who’s committed to Notre Dame, sat at 87-88 in the first inning and settled in at 84-86 through his five-inning stint. Kutsulis’ 69-73 curveball and changeup both had considerable late bite as well. Kutsulis allowed five hits, struck out seven, walked two and yielded four runs, none earned, in five innings.

“I felt pretty good today,” he said. “I felt great in the first inning, then I get tired pretty fast and relied more on my second and third pitches.”

In the sixth inning, Providence brought in junior Yianni Pavlopoulos, and the junior right-hander was equally as impressive. In his one inning, Pavlopoulos sat at 88 mph with his fastball, and also flashed a hard-biting 80-81 cutter/slider. He retired all three batters he faced, including one strikeout.

De La Salle (10-7, 4-3) didn’t go quietly, however. The Meteors scored two unearned runs in the fifth on junior third baseman Ricardo Ramirez’s two-run double. Then in the seventh, they made it 6-5 and had the tying run on third before reliever Cristian Ochoa recorded a strikeout to finish the game. Ochoa, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior right-hander, was 84-86 from a lower-3/4 arm slot to go along with a solid 75-mph slider.

“The thing about good teams like Providence is everybody swings the bats,” said De La Salle coach Nick Bridich. “Providence beat us in the first couple innings by swinging the bats. … I thought our kids competed to put some crooked numbers on the board to comeback.”

Haynes, a Western Michigan recruit, allowed eight hits, struck out four, walked three and hit one batter in four innings. Ramirez, a junior, pitched two hitless innings of relief, racking up three Ks behind an 82-84 mph fastball and a solid breaking ball.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Ramirez, who went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI, looks to be one of the top Class of 2013 third base prospects in Illinois. He possesses a quick and easy swing, has arm strength across the diamond and moves athletically in the field.

IL Top Prospect Showcase slide 6-14-12