Providence defeats King's Ridge to make semis

Providence Christian took care of all the drama with two wild games Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Stars were ready for something a little easier.

The Stars scored seven runs in the first two innings, and Patrick Smith gave up two runs over 4 2/3 innings to help Providence Christian to a run-shortened 12-2 win over King’s Ridge Christian.

The victory moves the Stars into the Class A semifinals for the second time in school history, and they’ll host Treutlen, who swept Hawkinsville in its quarterfinal series, 19-3 and 10-2.

Both games in Tuesday’s doubleheader were decided in the final innings, but the rubber game of the series fell apart early for King’s Ridge.

The Stars got two runners on to start the game, but slugger Christin Stewart then struck out. After a walk to load the bases, Nick Stidham stepped to the plate and hit a grand slam that gave Providence Christian a lead it would never relinquish.

Later in the game, Stewart hit a home run, his fourth of the series and 24th of the season. He has been the team’s best hitter all season, and he came to play this week.

“He’s pretty important; that’s putting it mildly,” Providence Christian coach Adam Cantrell said. “He’s a great kid, a great ball player. I’m very fortunate to have him on our team.”

His 24 home runs broke his own school record, set last year with 15. Stewart, who is a junior, first set the school record as a freshman, when he belted 13.

It wasn’t just offense that came through for the Stars on Wednesday, though, as No. 3 starter Smith held down a Tigers offense that scored 26 runs the previous day.

He nearly got the complete game, but had to be pulled after giving up a run in the top of the fifth, when the Stars had a chance to end the game. Stidham ended it with an RBI single in the bottom of that inning.

Despite being the No. 3 starter, Stewart gives his team a boost every time he takes the mound, Cantrell said.

“Our kids have a lot of confidence in him,” Cantrell said. “He’s a ballplayer. He’s not any bigger than a drink of water, but he loves baseball and loves to compete.”

Providence Christian will host Treutlen for a doubleheader at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, and the deciding game will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, if necessary.