Providence ends Indy’s season in second round of NC 4A Playoffs

Bubba Comer dives back to first base in the first inning. (Ron Morris)
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The Patriots’ 2018 baseball season came to an end Friday night as the  number one seeded Providence Panthers came from behind to defeat the number sixteen seeded Independence Patriots 3-2 in eight innings.

Coach Cooke said, “These kids played so hard down the stretch.  Nobody can ever take away from them.  What they did down the stretch this last month was one of the most satisfying, most fulfilling, minus tonight, the best baseball I have ever seen played.  They played inspired.  They played for each other.  They wanted it, and that is all I could ask for.  They played hard.  This is a very selfless team.  I don’t think we had many super stars but they were the best top to bottom team we have ever had.  I hate to go out like this, but again nobody can take away what they did this last month.”

Coaches and umpires go over the ground rules.(Ron Morris)

“We had some rough spots at the start, but they didn’t quit. All you can do is peak at the right time.  Again we didn’t come out on the right spot tonight, although we had our chances.  Again, I hate to go out like this, but I love these boys.”

Neither team scored in the first two innings.

Indy got on the board in top of the third when Matthew Mangum reached after being hit by a pitch.  Noah Howie followed with a single to left field.  With Mangum on third, Corbin Berkovics reached on a fielder’s choice as Mangum played off of third delaying the throw to first.  When Providence  tried to get Berkovics, the throw got past the first baseman, and Mangum scored to put Indy up 1-0.

The Panthers went down in the bottom half of the inning, and Indy added another run in the top of the fourth.

Raja Milton led off the inning with a base hit to left field. Chase Rappe followed and picked up a base hit by laying down a bunt to put runners on first and second.  Bryson Jusko’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third.

Indy’s Nate Brown collides with Providence second baseman.(Ron Morris)

With the top of Indy’s order coming up, Providence’s coach Danny Hignight called for a pitching change.  Ethan Reese came to the mound in relief for starting pitcher Tim Townsend.

Bubba Comer came to the plate, and coach Hignight called for the intentional walk which loaded the bases.  Nate Brown was next and drew a walk that scored Milton from third.  The Patriots next two hitters went down to end the top half of the inning with Indy leading 2-0.

The Panthers came battling back and tied the score in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Providence’s Daniel Pritchell led off and was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch.  On an attempted pick off play at first base, the throw was in the dirt and went to the left field baseline fence.  Pritchell made it all the way to third with no outs.

Matthew Mangum on his way home for Indy’s first run.(Ron Morris)

Coach Cooke made a pitching change and brought Corbin Berkovics in and moved Milton to first base.

Camron Bean was Berkovics’ first batter, and he singled to left field to score Pritchell cutting Indy’s lead 2-1.  Noah Hall moved Bean to second base by laying down a sacrifice  bunt.  Michael Danskt singled to center moving Bean to third.  Jack Roth came to the plate and laid down a sacrifice bunt scoring Bean to tie the score 2-2.

Neither team managed any runs through the seventh inning, and the regulation game finished with the score tied 2-2.

In the top of the eighth inning Indy went down in order.

In the bottom half of the eighth inning the Panther’s lead off hitter Michale Danskt blasted a double to left field.  Jack Roth reached on a bunt moving Danskt to third.  Providence’s Walker Bloomingburg was next up and drew an intentional walk to load the bases.  Ethan Reese stepped to the plate and laid down a bunt that scored Danskt to give the Panthers the win 3-2.

After Coach Cooke met with his team, Providence’s Coach Danny Hignight showed a lot of class.  He asked permission to speak to the Patriots and Coach Hignight told the Indy players that is something that he just doesn’t usually do, but he wanted them to how much respect he had for them, and Indy was one of the hardest teams they had played all year.  Coach Hignight also told the players that he preaches to his team about how hard Indy plays every game.  He further told them that he wanted them to know just how much he respected the Indy team.  He thanked them for letting him speak and wished them the very best in the future.

Coach Cooke said, “I got a lot of respect for Danny.  He has taught me a lot.  He is one of my mentors and for him to speak to my team means a lot.  We earned other teams respect.  Everybody knew who we were and that we were a dang good team.  To know that is very satisfying.”

Raja Milton safe at third.(Ron Morris)

Providence will move on to the third round and play Ardrey Kell.

Nate Brown and Noah Howie led the Patriots with two hits each.  Bubba Comer, Matthew Mangum, Corbin Berkovics, Raja Milton and Chase Rappe all connected for a hit.

The Patriots finished the 2018 season 17-11 and 10-4 in conference play.  Indy also says good-bye to seniors Chase Rappe, Matthew Mangum, Joey Granger, Bubba Comer, Nate Brown, Jake McDaniel and Corbin Berkovics.

Personally, I have enjoyed watching these guys play, and I think I can speak for Indy Nation in saying we will miss you guys.  I wish each and everyone of you the very best.  Again, thank you.

Independence  001 100 00 – 2

Providence      000 020  01 – 3

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