Providence High committed seven errors in a 7-3 loss to Reagan in the N.C. 4A semifinals Tuesday at home, ending the Panthers’ hopes of a first state title in six years.
The errors started piling up in the bottom of the first inning, when the Panthers’ first baseman couldn’t make the catch at first, putting runners on first and third. The inning ended scoreless, though, when senior right-fielder Jack Prosser caught a pop-up and made a tough throw home.
The errors at first only kept coming for the Panthers in the second inning — one let a Reagan runner reach second second; another allowed that same runner to score, and another to get second.
And once Reagan started scoring, Providence couldn’t stop it. Panthers starter Michael Forret pitched a clean third inning, but Reagan scored three times in the next two.
Two of those three runs were earned, with runners reaching bases on both a balk from Forret and another fielding error. After an RBI base hit in the top of the fifth, one more base-on-balls from Forret convinced head coach Danny Hignight to pull him.
But the relief appearance of usual starter and Liberty commit Jeremy Beamon didn’t help things. On his first batter, he gave up a two-run double, effectively putting the game out of reach for the Panthers.
The Panthers didn’t score until the sixth, already trailing by a half sozen runs.
Raiders starter Josh Hartle — currently the No. 31 MLB prospect in the country — was tough to deal with. He only giving up three hits and had six strikeouts. After five shutout innings, he allowed two earned runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Any hope of a Panthers comeback was stymied, though, when a wild pitch from Beamon in the top of the seventh gave the Raiders an insurance run, ensuring that Hartle had the space to pitch the seventh in peace. Though he gave up a run in the final frame, Reagan had secured its place in the 4A state championship, playing the winner of Wednesday night’s Eastern Regional final between Wilmington’s Ashley and Fuquay-Varina from Wake County.
The state final begins Friday in Burlington or Fayetteville.