INDIANAPOLIS – The Eastside Blazers had plenty of spectacular catches, but not nearly enough hits in their first appearance at the state finals, falling to Providence 4-0 Monday at Victory Field.
Eastside (26-7) mustered two hits and had another two batters reach on errors. Only one runner got past first base.
“Any time you get to this level, there are no losers. They beat us on the field, but at the same time I'm so proud of our kids, how they played throughout this tournament, how they conducted themselves on and off the field,” Eastside coach Aaron Willard said. “They've been great.”
Providence pitcher Ray Reisinger struck out 11 Eastside batters in the complete-game win, including six in the first three innings.
“His arm slot was hard to pick up, and he's just a great pitcher. I have to give props to him. He did a great job. That's what made us start out slow,” said Eastside second baseman Liam Franz, who was named the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award Winner for Class 2A after the game.
Providence (23-7) scored early as Eastside starting pitcher Owen Willard walked his second batter of the game, third baseman Eli Watson. Watson stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then scored on a double by shortstop Casey Kaelin that stayed just inside the third-base line to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
Providence stretched its lead to 2-0 in the third on a play remarkably similar to its first run: Reisinger reached on a double to right field, and scored on a Kaelin double that once again bounced just inside the third-base line.
Dylan Hertig recorded the first Eastside hit of the night with a two-out single to left in the top of the fourth, but Caleb Vanover followed that with a ground out to end any chance of a rally.
“Owen ran his pitch count up,” Aaron Willard said. “He's thrown a lot for us in the last couple weeks, and he's lost control a little bit. He wasn't as pin-point as he was. That's probably just from us having to throw him a bit too much.”
Wade Miller gave the Eastside faithful some hope in the top of the sixth inning when he reached third base on a dropped fly ball by Providence right fielder Jake Rodski with two outs. But Rodski immediately redeemed himself by catching a fly ball from Hertig to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Providence left fielder David Newbanks tripled and scored on a Max Beatty double to make it 3-0. Grant Borden was hit by a pitch to keep the inning going.
Borden scored the game's fourth run when he raced home on a wild pitch.
Colben Steury reached on an error in the top of the seventh, but Reisinger struck out the final two batters to secure the win.