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Providence takes down defending state champion Hebron

Photo: Jeff McPhail Providence catcher Charlie Scott (21) makes the play at the plate as Hebron's Tyler Hutch slides into home during Tuesday's game.

Photo: Jeff McPhail Providence catcher Charlie Scott (21) makes the play at the plate as Hebron's Tyler Hutch slides into home during Tuesday's game.

DACULA -- Christin Stewart didn't tie the state's career home run record Tuesday, but that was fine by the Providence baseball standout.

Stewart will get a chance in next week's semifinals after the Stars defeated defending state champion Hebron.

In a rematch of last year's Class A state championship series, Providence swept the Lions 2-0 and 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

"I'd rather be playing than getting that record," Stewart said.

Providence (23-10) will play the winner of the Calvary Day vs. Savannah Christian series in Monday's semifinals.

"This (win) doesn't mean anything for the next round except we learned how to win close games," Providence coach Adam Cantrell said.

This was the third year that Hebron and Providence met in the playoffs. The Stars won in the second round in 2010 and lost to the Lions in last year's state finals 6-5 and 6-3.

"I don't know if I would call it revenge," Cantrell said. "They earned what they got last year. To get an opportunity again and take advantage we love it."

The loss was a rare one for Hebron, which finished the year 28-4 and 61-7 over the last two years. That record includes a pair of region titles and last year's state championship.

"We had a great year," Hebron coach Heath Kennedy said.

Stewart was the Daily Post's Co-Player of the Year last season. The senior has hit 68 career home runs and is one away from tying Gainesville's Micah Owings' state record of 69.

"I'm not really thinking about it. I'm just trying to hit line drives," Stewart said.

Stewart's only serious threat for a home run on Tuesday was in Game 1 when he hit a double to the right centerfield wall.

"I didn't think it would go out," he said.

Providence was able to sweep the series off two of the state's top pitchers. Hebron's Jordan Hillyer struck out 12 batters in the Game 1 loss and Mason Felt struck out 12 in Game 2 to get his only loss of the season.

"Their pitchers are everything we expected," Cantrell said. "Their pitchers didn't deserve to take two losses tonight."

The difference was a few key hits for Providence in between all of those strikeouts.

Hillyer had a no-hitter threw four innings before Justin Brew led off with a single. John Bailey followed with an RBI single. Bailey came through again in the seventh, driving in Max Broom for the 2-0 lead.

"Our team just scrapped and battled," Stewart said. "They are two great pitchers and we got some hits off them when we needed them."

Erich Stahl got the win in Game 1 by throwing 6 innings. He allowed eight hits, but Hebron couldn't drive in a row and left nine runners on base. Josh Carter got the save by facing three batters and getting three outs.

"Their guy did a great job all game," Kennedy said. "We just couldn't find a hole. We couldn't get the timely hit."

Hebron began Game 2 with its only run of the series. Tyler Hutch (3-for-4) walked and later scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead.

Providence tied the game in the second inning when Austin Golden doubled. Josh Carter hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game.

The Stars went ahead in the third when Stahl walked to start the inning. Austin Smith reached on a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners. Providence used a play to get Felt off the mound and force a throw to second, while Stahl came home for the winning run.

"It was one of the plays we've worked on," Cantrell said. "It doesn't work usually, but today it worked."

Providence starter Steven Slaughter was nearly flawless and tossed a complete game. He allowed just three hits and struck out six. Hebron threatened to take the lead in the sixth by putting runners on second and third, but struck out to end the inning.

"Both their pitchers didn't do too much, but they got the job done," Kennedy said. "They did a good job and all you can do is tip your cap and say good luck."

Comments

chipperjones 1 year, 11 months ago

While I greatly appreciate the usually excellent high school baseball coverage provided by the GDP, you missed the mark with this story. Christen Stewart is definitely one of the best baseball players in Gwinnett and has greatly contributed to Providence's success. However, neither he nor his pursuit of the home run record were relevant to Providence's sweep of Hebron. Erich Stahl, Steven Slaughter, and Providence's defense were the story of the game. Stahl and Slaughter should have been featured/interviewed. You missed a great opportunity to give these two young men some well deserved recognition for their efforts on Tuesday.

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