Providence High’s nationally ranked baseball team will play in the N.C. 4A state championship series next week.
The Panthers got a brilliant pitching performance from Michael Forret and beat TC Roberson 3-0 Friday night, taking the best-of-3 regional championship series 2-0. Providence won Game 10-0 Tuesday behind a 16-strikeout, one-hit performance from South Carolina recruit Eli Jerzembeck.
Forret nearly matched Jerzembeck, allowing just one hit and striking out 13. Roberson got a one-out single in the final inning to break up his no-hitter attempt.
“I think on Monday morning, me and coach (Danny) Hignight, we had a good heart-to-heart pitching, what I need to do to be the best,” Forret said. “I took everything to heart and I just went out there and just competed, man. I’ve got the best team in the state behind me. I’ve got the best coach in the state controlling the game, and it’s a whole team performance.”
Now, Forret and the Panthers (32-0) will play either Fuquay-Varina or Pinecrest in the best-of-3 state finals series, which will begin Friday.
Providence will be looking for its third ring.
Providence won its first state championship in 1995, beating New Hanover. The Panthers lost to Greenville’s JH Rose High in 1997. The Panthers went back to the finals and won in 2015, beating Millbrook.
On Friday, not much happened early, as both starting pitchers -- Roberson’s Reno Jeter and Forret -- both had great starts.
The first hit of the game came from Panthers’ Collin McDougal who hit one into center field off the glove of the center fielder for a double. McDougal would advance to third after a fielding error by the Ram’s catcher. McDougal would be left stranded on third as Jeter dug his way out of what appeared to be headed for a big inning for the Panthers.
With two runners on and one out in the top of the third and threatening again, the Rams turned a double play to end the inning escaping trouble yet again as the Panthers bats seemed to be warming up.
With Forret keeping Rolesville’s offense stymied, Providence finaly got going in the sixth.
Anthony Watson got on base after a poor throw from the shortstop to first base. Pinch runner Jackson Warfield later scored the first run of the game for either team.
After a three up, three down sixth inning on defense, the Panthers added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
That was more than enough.
“Incredible pitching performance by Mike Forret,” Hignight said. “Our hitters, we struggled tonight. We grinded and found a way, and we did some things to create some runs.”
THREE WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE
Michael Forret, Providence: Forret had 13 strikeouts and gave up just one hit.
Reno Jeter, T.C. Roberson: Jeter was everything the Rams needed him to be until he was pulled in the top of the sixth inning after getting the first out of the inning. He only allowed two Providence hits and had two strikeouts.
Anthony Watson, Providence: Watson got what was the crucial hit for the Panthers bringing the first run of the game home in the top of the sixth inning. It was Watson’s only hit in the game but the biggest hit of the game nonetheless giving the Panthers the advantage.
Providence stays undefeated and advances to the state championship series while T.C. Roberson’s season will come to an end.
Providence: 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 — 3
T.C. Roberson: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
WP: Michael Forret (6.6 IP, 13 K, 2 BB, 0 ER)
LP: Nick Parham
Friday’s Rewind: East Lincoln wins
East Lincoln rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night and beat South Rowan 6-4, forcing a Game 3 in the 3A West Regional championship series.
South Rowan (27-5), which won the opener 11-1 Wednesday night, led 4-1 early in the game, but East Lincoln (21-7) closed the gap on a Garret Michel two-run home run in the fifth inning. The Mustangs tied the game on catcher Nathan Borchard’s RBI single, then went ahead on a sacrifice fly. They added another run on a single.
Haiden Leffew had three hits for the Raiders, including a pair of doubles.
Game 3 is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at South Rowan.
Top-seeded Randleman pulled away in the later innings and blanked Community School of Davidson 9-0, for a sweep of the 2A West Regional championship series. The Tigers won the series opener 12-0 on Tuesday.
Game 2 had been started Thursday night, with Randleman (31-1) building a 5-0 lead after four innings. Community School of Davidson, which knocked off second seed North Stanly and No. 7 Lincoln Charter earlier in the playoffs, finished with a 17-8 record.
Grace Smith had a huge night, scoring all four goals as undefeated and second-seeded South Point blanked West Henderson 4-0 in a 3A quarterfinal match.
The victory sets up a Tuesday night match between the Raiders (23-0) and top-seeded Lake Norman Charter, which will be the host team.
Smith scored twice in the first half and added two goals in the second. She has scored 45 goals this season.
Union County coaching news
Trey Kavanaugh, the head football coach at Cuthbertson High in Waxhaw, announced Friday that he was resigning his position. In a Twitter announcement, Kavanaugh said he is quitting to “take an opportunity that I believe is best for me and my coaching career.”
Kavanaugh had a 13-18 record at Cuthbertson, and the Cavaliers are coming off a 6-7 season in which they upset Watauga and Lake Norman in the 4A playoffs before eventually falling to Weddington.
In other Union County coaching news, Jeff Stack is stepping down as Sun Valley’s baseball coach to take an unspecified coaching position at Nation Ford High in Fort Mill. Stack had a 44-24 record in four seasons with the Spartans, and his 2021 team reached the 3A West Regional finals. This year’s team finished 19-5. Assistant Anthony Dionisio has been named interim head coach.
And Rick Hurni has been named head baseball coach at Weddington. He replaces Travis Poole, who is retiring adfter 16 seasons. Hurni had been a baseball assistant with the Warriors. Poole had 463 victories as head coach, and his 2011 and ’12 teams won 3A state championships.