Prep Baseball Report

Providence Catholic Wins Thriller Over Homewood-Flossmoor

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

In one of the more anticipated Class 4A Regional Semi-final matchups in the state, Providence Catholic went up against Homewood-Flossmoor at Lincoln-Way East. Both teams sent their aces to the mound, in senior RHP’s Bryce Barnett (Providence) and Tyler Schlaffer (Homewood-Flossmoor). The Vikings of Homewood-Flossmoor jumped out to the early lead, but thanks to a couple clutch home-runs, the Celtics of Providence stormed back for an 8-7 win.

With the game tied at seven, in the bottom of the sixth inning, Providence strung together a two-out rally. Luke Pell pinch hit and reached on a bunt single that got past the pitcher. Junior Jake Mucha followed with a line-drive single to right field, putting the winning run at second base. One of the Celtic hero’s of the day, senior Brennan Geers, then delivered the game-winning RBI with a sharply hit single up the middle, plating Pell, giving the Celtics the 8-7 lead.

An inning earlier, Geers delivered, arguably the biggest momentum changer of the game, a huge three-run home-run, which cut the Vikings lead to 7-6 at the time. Providence would later score the tying run on a wild drop third strike play. With two outs and a runner on second, Celtic batter Ryan O’Neil, swung and missed at strike three in the dirt. O’Neil, alertly sprinted out of the box and was going to make it a bang-bang play at first base but the ball deflected off his back instead and allowed the runner from second to come all the way around to score the tying run.

Junior Ryan Manikowski, who came on in relief of Barnett, was lights out for Providence. The Creighton commit did not allow a hit in his three innings of work, struck out four, walked one and was consistently showing off one of the best sliders in the state. Manikowski buckled a number of hitters and got a bunch of swing-and-misses on the upper-70’s wipeout offering. After the Celtics took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Manikowski went 1-2-3 in the seventh, with two strikeouts to close the door.

Providence Catholic trailed 6-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning and were not playing playoff baseball, making a number of defensive miscues, leading to the early deficit. That is when the tide started to turn for the Celtics. Junior Jake Hesselmann, led off the frame with double and scored on a Mucha line-drive to right field. A few batters later, junior Ben Vitas delivered a no-doubt home-run to left-center field, cutting the lead in half entering the fourth.

The Vikings scored all but one of their runs in the second inning. In the six-run second, the Vikings collected three hits and walked twice but it was four Providence errors that ignited the inning. Jacob Schroeder, Tyrone Simpson and Isaiah Coupet all had singles in the frame. Coupet would give the Vikings their only other run of the game with a solo home run to left-center field.

Both Barnett and Schlaffer did not have their typical command and had to work hard in their outings. Schlaffer, a UIC commit, sat mostly 90-93 mph throughout, touching 94 and 95 once. The quick-armed right-hander threw 96 pitches in 4.2 innings, scattering seven hits, six earned runs, striking out eight and walking four. Barnett, an Arizona State commit, fell victim to a number of defensive miscues but still managed to go four innings on 68 pitches. Barnett, who topped at 90 mph, scattered seven hits, seven runs, only one earned, struck out five and walked two.


+ Brennan Geers - 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, R
+ Jake Hesselmann - 2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB
+ Jake Mucha - 3-for-4, RBI, 2 R


+ Isaiah Coupet - 2-for-4, HR, RBI, R
+ Tyrone Simpson - 2-for-4, R
+ William Pauling - 1-for-2, 2B, R

For more in-depth notes from this game - and all other games that we cover - visit the Illinois Scout Blog.