A Wild Card win by the Boston Red Sox set up an interesting American League Division Series for the Providence Christian Academy baseball program.

Fourth-seeded Boston plays the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays, pitting Providence grads Garrett Whitlock and Collin McHugh against each other. The series gets underway Thursday with Game 1 at 8:07 p.m.

“Proud coach here,” Providence head coach Adam Cantrell said of the two MLB players, separated in age by a decade — McHugh graduated Providence in 2005 and Whitlock graduated in 2015.

Whitlock, 25, has made a rapid rise in the Red Sox organization, which acquired him in the Rule 5 Draft from the New York Yankees last December. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2017 MLB Draft after playing college baseball at Alabama-Birmingham.

After excelling in New York’s system, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and missed the 2020 season. He made a huge jump this season, making his MLB debut and emerging as the Red Sox closer for the postseason. In 46 appearances this season, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 8-4 with a 1.96 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings.

McHugh, 34, has enjoyed a long MLB career that began in 2012 with the New York Mets. The right-hander, an 18th-round pick of the Mets out of Berry College, also played for the Colorado Rockies (2013) and Houston Astros (2014-19), where he won an American League-best 19 games in 2015 and won a World Series title. He missed the 2020 season with an elbow issue before signing with the Rays back in February.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays

-Sep 18, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Collin McHugh (31) throws a pitch in the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

With Tampa Bay, McHugh has been effective this season, going 6-1 with a 1.55 ERA in 37 appearances (seven starts). He has struck out 74 in 64 innings.

Sports Editor for the Gwinnett Daily Post and Regional Sports Director for Southern Community Newspapers, Inc. A Gwinnett native documenting Gwinnett County sports with the GDP since 1997.

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