HPCA falls to Providence Day

May. 18, 2013 @ 12:04 AM

The smallest plays made the biggest difference for High Point Christian Academy.

Providence Day School tallied three hits — two of which were unusual — to score two runs in the eighth inning and beat the Cougars 2-0 in the semifinals of the NCISAA 3A state baseball playoffs Friday afternoon at Finch Field.

In the eighth inning, the third-seeded Chargers (19-10) hit a one-out single down the right-field line that bounced, bobbled off the outfielder and landed in the dead-ball area for a ground-rule double. Nick Gregor then doubled home Kendall Hughes.

Then, after Gregor stole third, Nick Giordano hit a two-out nubber down the third-base line and into foul territory. But the ball hit the curb where the dirt meets the grass and took a sharp turn back into fair territory to score Gregor for a 2-0 lead.

“I’d rather them hit a ball 400 feet than hit that lip and roll fair for that second run,” HPCA coach Corey Gesell said, cracking a smile. “Those are the breaks — sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. There’s no explanation.”

The second-seeded Cougars (24-5) did have a look at tying. Stephen Hemrick and Luke Gesell singled and moved into scoring position with two outs. With runners on second and third, though, Providence Day got a groundout to end the game.

“Stephen worked hard and got on base, and Luke beat out the infield hit and hustled,” coach Gesell said. “Next thing you know, we’re there to tie. Levi (Gesell) got a good pitch to hit, but he just got a little out in front and grounded out.

“We did that a lot today. It’s a credit to their pitcher. He pitched outstanding. He kept throwing a changeup that looked like a fastball, and we kept rolling over on it. So, he pitched great.”

Hemrick also pitched well in the loss, striking out nine and scattering seven hits. He was also HPCA’s lone batter with two hits, as Andrew Burnick got the win with five hits allowed in 7 1/3 innings. Eric Jones went 3 for 4 as the lone multi-hit batter for the Chargers.

“We played some tremendous baseball,” coach Gesell said of the season. “We won the PACIS for the first time in three years in the conference. So, we accomplished one of our goals. 

“We wanted to get to the final four and have a chance to play for the state championship and did that. We were right there, so I’m very proud of the guys.”