0

Smith helps Providence out-slug Landmark

Staff Photo: John Bohn Landmark's Jake McCurry (7), second from left, is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the first inning, on a single hit by Jordan Wren. Landmark played Providence in a first round Class A playoff baseball game Friday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Landmark's Jake McCurry (7), second from left, is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the first inning, on a single hit by Jordan Wren. Landmark played Providence in a first round Class A playoff baseball game Friday.

photo

Staff Photo: John Bohn Providence first baseman Austin Golden (27) can not get hold of the ball as Landmark's Jordan Wren (1) singles during a first round Class A playoff baseball game Friday.

photo

Staff Photo: John Bohn Providence center fielder Tyler Brown (1) dives for a ball hit by Landmark's Reid Kemp (14) during the second inning of a first round Class A playoff baseball game Friday. Landmark's Kemp singled on the play.

photo

Staff Photo: John Bohn Landmark's Jake McCurry (7) steals second base while Providence second baseman Austin Loyd (6) is a bit late on the tag during a first round Class A playoff baseball game Friday.

LILBURN -- New high school bat restrictions resulted in less scoring in general and fewer homers in particular this season. But you wouldn't have known it Friday at Providence Christian.

Stars hitters acted like they were swinging their old aluminum, although all they could get out of their Class A state tournament first-round doubleheader with Landmark Christian was a split.

The teams will meet today at 2 p.m. in a deciding third game at Providence after combining for 35 runs and five homers, with the Stars' Steven Slaughter the only pitcher to escape the onslaught.

Slaughter allowed just three hits over five innings as Providence won the shortened second game 13-1 after dropping the opener 13-8 in the regulation seven innings.

Austin Smith hit one of the Stars' three homers and finished the doubleheader with hits in his last seven at-bats. He had three double in addition to his long first-game blast and finished with seven RBIs.

Christin Stewart and Austin Golden homered in the second game as the Stars pounded out 14 hits. They each had three RBIs in the victory, as did Austin Loyd.

Providence coach Adam Cantrell lost the coin flip to decide who bats last in the deciding game of the series today. But the Stars (18-10) should be comfortable wearing their red jerseys and batting first after what happened Friday with their season on the line.

Providence, the Class A state runner-up last year, never trailed in the second game after never leading in the first.

The Stars, designated as the visiting team for the nightcap, scored three first-inning runs, two coming on Golden's homer, then knocked out Landmark freshman starter Ben Baggett while scoring three more runs in the second inning and put the game out of reach with a six-run fourth inning in which 11 batters went to the plate.

Smith was 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs after going 3-for-4 with a homer and double while driving in four runs in the opener. Golden was 2-for-2 with a walk in the second game and Erich Stahl scored five runs from his leadoff spot in the doubleheader.

Cole Higbie hit a first-inning homer off Slaughter for Landmark (20-7), but the War Eagles were held to just two more hits and no runs before the game was stopped early by the mercy rule.

Slaughter (7-1) struck out five and walked none while not allowing a runner past first base in the final four innings.

Stewart's homer was a two-run shot in second inning and it gave him 11 for the season and 65 for his career. The Tennessee signee set a state record with 26 homers last year.

Loyd, who is headed to Belmont, broke his nose when struck in the face by a bad hop during practice this week, but he was 5-for-7 in the doubleheader and drove in four runs.

The War Eagles took charge of the opener with a six-run fifth inning as they sent 10 men to the plate for the second time after scoring four runs while batting around in the second. Higbie had a two-run double in both of the big innings and finished the first game 3-for-5.

Landmark had 14 hits off Providence starter Luke Richardson and a pair of relievers. The Stars also didn't help themselves early in the game with three errors.

Stahl, who had a team-best 1.77 ERA, will start Game 3 as the Stars try to avoid losing a opening-round state tournament series for the first time since 2006.

Providence made the championship series in 2008 as well as last year. The Stars reached the quarterfinals in 2010 and the second round in 2007 and 2009.

In 2009, Landmark ousted the Stars in a three-game showdown at Providence. That's some history that the Stars don't want to repeat.