Jul 29, 2014

Stars Soar Into Baseball Semifinals

Providence Christian routes King's Ridge 12-2 to advance in Class A playoffs.

Stars Soar Into Baseball Semifinals Stars Soar Into Baseball Semifinals

Providence Christian kept its offensive foot on the pedal Wednesday in beating King's Ridge to advance in the Class A baseball playoffs.

The Stars, who scored 28 runs in the first game of the series, pounded out 14 hits and scored in every inning to beat the Tigers 12-2 and win the deciding third game in the quarterfinal series.

Nick Stidman started the onslaught with a first-inning grand slam home run and he finished it in the bottom of the fifth inning with a single that scored Austin Smith, resulting in the game being called due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Christin Stewart hit his fourth home run of the series, a two-run shot in the second inning that scored Austin Lloyd, who finished the game 4-for-4 with two RBIs. The homer also was Stewart's 24th of the season, extending his Gwinnett County record number to 24.

Austin Smith also added a home run for Providence.

Providence added a run in the third, three in the fourth and one more in the fifth to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2008, when the Stars lost to Pacelli.

The Stars led 7-1 after two innings as the only blemish on pitcher Patrick Smith's line until the fifth inning was a solo home run by King's Ridge pitcher Jeff Sneed. 

Providence outscored King's Ridge 66-30 in the five games the team faced each other this season.

"I think they just ran out of gas," said Providence Christian coach Adam Cantrell. "They played a lot including the play-in game against Holy Innocence and I think they were just tired."

Patrick Smith knew with his team he would get a lot of run support.

"I knew my team was going to hit so I knew if I pitched well we had a good chance of winning," said Smith. "[The first-inning grand slam] just got my confidence going. It's great when you get runs early. I knew my offense was going to keep scoring. I knew if I could do semi-OK I would be able to win."

The Stars will host Truetlan County on Monday at Providence with two games beginning at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

"If he [Smith] keeps the ball down he has a good chance of winning," Cantrell said. "You would have never known by watching the games yesterday that we were capable of playing good defense. Loyd made a couple of nice plays, Stephen Slaughter had a big play at first and we made some routine plays as well. And the routines are the ones we usually mess up on. The first inning really got us going."

Stidham was focused on his mechanics and it paid off.

"He gave me a pitch and I was focused and swung and it got out," Stidham said of his early homer. "He takes second [Austin Smith] and at that point I was just looking to get a single. Hopefully get something up that I could drive and he threw me a changeup. I got out in front and pulled it into the hole."

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