August 07, 2022


Baseball: Providence hangs on to top Joliet Catholic

Lockport has little trouble dispatching Lincoln-Way West

Providence Catholic logo

LOCKPORT – Rivalry wins don’t come easy, even when they look they might.

The Providence baseball team claimed a 9-8 victory over Joliet Catholic in the quarterfinal round of the WJOL Baseball Tournament on Friday afternoon in a game where at one point the Celtics held a 9-1 lead.

The win lifts Providence into the semifinal round of the tournament, where it will face Lockport, which took apart Lincoln-Way West with an 11-run inning in Friday’s first quarterfinal game. The game will be contested about 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Lockport, weather permitting.

All of the placement games will be held at Duly Health and Care Field, with the championship game tentatively scheduled to be played at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Once again, if the weather allows.

Providence (3-0) dominated the early portion of the game.

The Celtics scored four runs in the first inning, as the first six batters reached base. Even with four on the board, it looked like the inning had the potential for Providence to do more damage.

And it looked like another opportunity might be missed when Providence put together another promising inning in the third. The Celtics had their first four batters reach, with one run scoring, before a strikeout and a popout made it appear that the Hilltoppers might wiggle off the hook with minimal damage.

But Providence’s Gavin Gomez wasn’t going to let it happen, swatting a grand slam over the right field fence that allowed the Celtics to build what appeared to be a fairly insurmountable lead.

“It felt great coming off the bat,” Gomez said. “I’d been in a little bit of a slump, so I was glad I was able to square one up. It was a big moment.”

Instead of folding, Joliet Catholic started to chip away at the lead. The Hilltoppers put up four runs in the fourth, added two more runs in the fifth and scratched and clawed its way to having the tying run at second base after Aiden Voss homered and Luka Radicevich rapped a two-out RBI double in the seventh.

But Tyler Young induced a ground out to end the rally and the game as Providence escaped and moved on to the semifinals.

Providence entered the season with high expectations from a pitching staff full of prominent returners, but the Celtics’ ability to produce offense was something of a question. So far, it hasn’t been a huge issue.

“We’ve actually swung it better than anticipated. I wasn’t sure what we were going to have,” Providence coach Mark Smith. “We haven’t seen a live pitch in a week. I told the kids last night that it was almost like we were starting over.”

Providence’s offense has been so potent that it easily could have posted considerably more runs than it did. The Celtics left 11 runners on base and twice recorded their third out with the bases loaded.

“We gotta get timely hitting,” Smith said. “We got guys on, now we have to learn how to get them in. That’s why Gavin’s grand slam was so pivotal, because they had bases loaded and nobody out and they were about to get out of it.’

Joliet Catholic’s rally was encouraging to Hilltoppers coach Jared Voss, but ultimately both teams’ difficulties consistently throwing strikes made for a much choppier game than either side would have liked. A total of 19 walks and/or hit batsmen occurred in the contest.

“We battled back a lot, but a some point you have to find a way to win,” Voss said. “Too many mistakes, but its all very correctable things and its the same for everybody. If the weather ever cooperates we can find a way to get more consistent.”

Lockport 15, Lincoln-Way West 3: The game looked like it might be evolving into a pitchers’ duel early on, but then came the bottom of the third inning.

After collecting only one hit in the first two innings, the Porters went into smash mode, sending 15 batters to the plate, nine of whom collected hits in scoring 11 runs to take control of the game.

They tacked on three more runs in the fourth to secure the 10-run rule, connecting for three more hits in the inning to finish with 13 hits, all but one of which came in the third and fourth innings.

Joey Manzo, Griffin Brown, Victor Izquierdo, Arnoldo Velazquez and Easton Gotts all had two RBIs for Lockport, which improved to 7-0 with the victory.

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.