Prep Baseball Report

4A Round 4: Reagan at Providence

Sam Fligel
Prep Baseball Report of NC

Reagan- 7 Providence- 3

Errors and Josh Hartle’s dominance told the tale of the 4A Regionals matchup between Reagan and Providence. In front of a full crowd at Providence, Reagan won behind Hartle’s complete game which featured six strikeouts with no earned runs. Providence’s seven errors in the game gave Hartle more than enough support to push his team to the state championship.

Michael Forret was on the mound for the Panthers. In typical Providence fashion for this year's playoff run, early trouble was lurking for the Raiders. Tommy Hawke walked to begin the game which was followed by a Colby Welborn bunt that was thrown away. Hawke raced to third on the play and Welborn was safely on first with no one out. On a marvelous play to keep the game tied, right fielder Jack Prosser raced into foul ground on a fly ball and fired a strike home to nab Hawke at the plate. With two outs, catcher Luke Wolff sprang out of the crouch to grab a ball rolling around the plate and made a nice throw to get the Panthers out of the inning unscathed. 

Josh Hartle took control of the game the first chance he got. He opened his day on the mound with two strikeouts utilizing his sharp breaking ball. Jeremy Beamon was hit by a pitch with two outs, but was then caught stealing after Hartle picked to first and Beamon was thrown out. 

Forret got a quick out to start the second, but an overthrow on a ground ball found Noah Quarless standing on second with one out. A flyout to follow the error made it seem likely for the game to remain tied. However, Zack Middleton placed a ground ball up the middle that was unable to be cleanly thrown and caught at first for the last out of the inning. Quarless came around to score on the play to take an early lead for Reagan, and with Hartle’s impressive first inning on the mound it seemed like one run could be enough. In the second inning, Providence already had committed three errors. A ground out following the error then got the Panthers back into the dugout.

Luke Wolff recorded Providence’s first hit of the game to lead off the bottom of the second as he lined a ball through the left side of the infield. Cam Hull came in to run for Wolff (the catcher). Tommy Walker dropped down a sac bunt that moved Hull to second with one away. Collin McDougall also dropped a bunt down in the next at-bat. The ball was fielded cleanly by Hartle and thrown to first to set down McDougall. Hull did advance to third on the play, but with two outs now. Hartle induced a popup to end the chance Providence had of getting a run right back.

Forret settled in nicely in the third picking up two strikeouts on his way to setting the Raiders down in order. Hartle got a groundout to begin his half of the inning. Jacob Russak then worked a walk with one out. David Garfinkle lined out to left for the second out of the inning. To end the inning, Jake Knepp connected on a ball to deep right field that ran out of carry and was caught.

Carter Boyd led off the top of the fourth with a walk and then a stolen base to put him at second. Austin Hawke got Reagan fans out of their seats when he lined a ball down the third base line for a double that scored Boyd. A balk moved Hawke to second with no one out. Noah Quarless reached base after another Providence error that scored Hawke. A flyout finally got the first out of the inning for the Panthers, but Quarless advanced to third on the play. Forret then got two ground outs in a row to put down the Raiders. Heading into the bottom of the fourth, Reagan was ahead by three. 

Hartle continued to cruise through the Providence lineup as he got a ground out to begin the inning. Luke Wolff reached base for his second time in the game after he worked a walk. Cam Hull came on again to run for him and stole second on a strikeout pitch. With two outs, Hartle caught Hull stealing as he took off for third on a pickoff and was called out. Through four, Hartle had given up no runs on only one hit.

Despite not getting much help from his defense, Forret continued to compete on the mound. A Tommy Hawke lineout gave Providence their first out. Colby Welborn sent a ball back up the middle that was deflected by Forret who could not recover quick enough to get Welborn at first. A wild pitch pushed Welborn up to second and then Josh Hartle was intentionally walked to keep the double play in order with one out. Carter Boyd lined a ball to left that dropped which scored Welborn from second. Austin Hawke walked to load the bases and end Forret’s day on the mound after four and a third. Playoff hero Jeremy Beamon came on to pitch for the Panthers and attempted to work them out of further trouble. Noah Quarless took a good pitch to left field for a double to tack on two more runs for Reagan. Beamon responded by picking off Quarless at second and then collecting a strikeout looking to get out of the inning. Through five innings, Providence had now compiled a total of five errors and Reagan led by six.

As he picked up back to back strikeouts in the fifth, Josh Hartle showed that he was fully in command with no signs of slowing down. Sam Dansky put a good swing on the ball with two outs, but lined out to center which kept Providence scoreless. 

Jeremy Beamon picked off right where he left off as he recorded two strikeouts to begin the sixth. He then fielded a comebacker and tossed it to first to set the Raiders down in order. Coming off the momentum of a quick inning, Providence showed some signs of hope as Jacob Russak led off with a hard hit ball to shortstop that was mishandled. Russak took second base and advanced to third on a very close play at first involving David Garfinkle. Garfinkle grounded a ball to first that was in the hole between first and second. Hartle raced to cover first and Garfinkle dove head first into first base. Garfinkle was called out on a close play. Jeremy Beamon continued to produce for Providence as a ball he hit to center found the grass which scored Russak and finally put the Panthers on the board. Bo Witherspoon came in to run for Jeremy Beamon (the pitcher). Witherspoon stole second when the ball was overthrown by the first baseman when Hartle picked to first. Luke Wolff added on to his productive day at the dish as he hit a ball hard to short that could not be fielded cleanly. Witherspoon raced in to score to cut the lead down to four. A ground out then got the Raiders out of the inning, but the damage was done. On a couple of Raider errors, Providence was showing some life heading into the seventh.

Colby Welborn started the seventh by lining a ball at the pitcher again. This time the ball was deflected to Sam Dansky at short who had no real play at first by the time he regained control of the ball. Beamon got another strikeout to get the first out in the seventh. Carter Boyd reached base after he hit a ball to third that was thrown away. Welborn moved to third on the play and Boyd reached second. A passed ball then plated Welborn. Beamon got another strikeout and then a ground out to get out of the inning. Facing elimination, the Panthers would need five runs to send this game to extras and keep their state championship dreams alive.

Hartle trotted back out in the seventh to finish what he started. He recorded a groundout to begin the inning, but Jack Prosser then reached base on an error. Following some miscommunication between Hartle and his catcher, Prosser found himself on third after two pitches reached the backstop. Sam Dansky walked, and Jacob Russak capitalized as he hit a ball between the shortstop and third basemen that was deflected. Prosser scored on the play, Dansky moved up to second, and Russak was safe at first. With one out in the seventh, Hurtle got another strikeout and then the Raiders dogpile commenced following a ground out for the last out of the game. 

Josh Hartle lived up to the hype and shut down a talented Panthers offense. Providence’s sloppy defense left them climbing an uphill battle for most of this game, and Reagan did not look back once they took control of the game. Reagan now advances to the state championship which will begin on Friday and is a best of three series.