In Monday’s Class 2A Providence Sectional championship game, the host Providence baseball team left no doubt who the best team in the sectional was after a five-inning, 12-2 beating of visiting Paoli on Monday.
“I’m very happy for the players. This is their team, their sectional,” Providence coach Scott Hornung said. “This team is a joy to be around. It has been a good experience. We have a lot of new kids — this is their first sectional. I’m happy for them.”
Freshman Juston Betz couldn’t wait for his first sectional. With the bases loaded in the bottom half of the fifth inning, it was his hit that finished off the Rams and brought on the 10-run mercy rule with a bases-clearing triple.
Providence pitcher Ryan Mueller was dominant in his five innings of work. He only allowed two hits and neither of the Rams’ two runs were earned. Mueller had his strikeout pitch working as he finished with nine strikeouts.
In a span from the second to the fourth innings, he was unhittable. He struck out seven straight Rams and eight of the nine batters faced.
The Pioneers’ offensive damage came in the form of a seven spot in the third inning.
“It was our second time through the lineup and we really started getting good swings on the ball,” Hornung said. “We had a good game plan and we executed it perfectly that inning.”
Providence added two more runs in the fourth. Paoli returned the favor in the top of the fifth with two runs of its own before Betz and the Pioneers closed things out in the bottom half with the three runs.
There were plenty of Pioneer stars on the offensive side Monday. Ben Shahroudi was 2-for-4 with two runs and two driven home, Betz went 2-for-2, Tre Watson finished 2-for-3 and scored a pair of runs and Collin Rauck walked three times and scored twice.
Providence will host the regional and face Class 2A No. 7 Evansville Mater Dei in the first semifinal on Saturday. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season and Providence is ready to go.
“That’s a quality program,” Hornung said of the Wildcats. “They know how to play baseball. They are a really tough team. We are a tough team, too. We have a good program and we can play with anyone. It will be two good teams.”
The sectional championship was the 16th for the Pioneers, including a title last year. They were eliminated in the first round by Eastern Greene in last year’s regional first round and last won a regional title in 2010.
CLASS 2A PROVIDENCE SECTIONAL
PROVIDENCE 12, PAOLI 2
Paoli 000 02— 2 2 3
Providence 007 23—12 10 2
W — Ryan Mueller 3-4. L — Clayton Monroe. 2B — Ben Shahroudi (Pr), Jay Lorenz (Pr), Ethan Wells (Pa). 3B — Juston Betz (Pr).