Providence Christian rallied for three runs to send the game into extra innings and then won it with three in the ninth to clinch the Class 3A, Area 3 title with an 11-8 baseball win over Houston Academy late Friday night.
The Raiders won the opener of the doubleheader on the Providence campus, 11-3, to force a second game to determine the area champ.
The Eagles, ranked eighth in the state, are now 17-10 overall, 7-1 in area play. The Raiders, ranked 10th in the state, are now 20-8 overall, 6-2 in area play. Both teams will advance to next week’s state playoffs with Providence at home against the Area 1 runner-up and HA traveling to the Area 1 winner.
Providence scored five runs in the second inning of Game 2 before Houston Academy scored the next eight to lead 8-5 going to the final inning.
Providence, the designated visiting team on the scoreboard for Game 2, began its late rally as two runs scored with one out when a grounder off the bat of Chapel Stickler to third base was thrown past first base. Jake Smith then ripped a single to right field to bring in Stickler with the tying run.
Houston Academy got its leadoff batter on in the bottom of the seventh when Sheldon Ott walked. J.T. Ackerman laid down a sacrifice bunt to move over Boland Dykes, who entered to pinch run. Hughes Dean was walked intentionally by Harrison Mims.
Wade Shelley grounded out to Mims, but Dykes and Dean advanced before Max Burgreen flied out to deep right field to end the inning.
Ott, who had been playing first base, came on to pitch in relief of Tucker Jackson to begin the eighth and struck out the side.
The Raiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on two walks and an infield hit with two outs, but Mims got a strikeout to end the threat.
In the ninth, Providence loaded the bases with one out by way of a hit batsman, an error on a bunt and a walk.
With Clark Crowder at the plate, a low pitch by Ott went off the glove of catcher Chapman Andrews and Frank Wells raced in for the go-ahead run. Ott then struck out Crowder for the second out.
Abe Chancellor was then intentionally walked to reload the bases before Reed Linder drew a walk to force in another run in making it 10-8.
With Mims at the plate and two outs, the Eagles scored a final run on a wild pitch to take the three-run lead.
Mims then sat down the Raiders in order in the bottom half of the inning with two strikeouts and a pop up to second in wrapping up the victory.
Providence used some small ball in the top of the second inning to race out to the five-run advantage.
A two-RBI single into left field by Matt Dave Snell brought in the first runs after the Eagles got a walk and two bunt singles to load the bases with nobody out.
After another successful bunt by Wells reloaded the bases, Jackson came in to pitch in relief of starter J.T. Pitchford.
Stickler greeted Jackson with a perfect bunt down the third base line to bring in another run, making it 3-0.
Smith then walked with the bases loaded for another run before Jackson got two straight strikeouts. However, Jackson hit Linder with the bases loaded to make it a 5-0 lead.
Jackson, throwing heat, got another strikeout to end the inning to avoid any further damage.
Houston Academy got into the scoring column in the bottom half of the inning, benefitting from four straight walks to make it 5-1. Andrews dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt that scored Hughes Dean before a strikeout ended the inning.
In the third inning, HA crept closer when Griffin McGee scored on a wild pitch with two outs to make it 5-3.
The Raiders took the lead in the fifth inning.
Jackson came in on a wild pitch with the bases loaded and two outs and then Dean ripped a single between third and shortstop to bring in two more and give HA a 6-5 advantage.
The Raiders added a couple of runs in the sixth when Andrews doubled down the third base line to bring in Burgreen, who had walked and stole second.
Sawyer Jones, inserted as a courtesy runner for Andrews, would later score when a grounder to first off the bat of McGee was mishandled, making it 8-5, before Providence mounted its rally.