<strong>SMITHFIELD—</strong> In a clash between the top Northern Utah League teams, first place Providence came away with a 4-1 win over second place Smithfield Thursday at Richard V. Hansen Ballpark. Yordley Watts pitched a complete game for the Wolverines to earn the win.
“We came out with a lot of confidence,” said Cody Christensen, who was the acting head coach for the Wolverines. “It just went from there. We were aggressive with their pitcher, and it paid off for us.”
Defense set the tone throughout as both sides came up with several key stops, but aggressive hitting and base-running gave Providence a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
A leadoff double and a Blue Sox error put a runner on third with nobody out for the Wolverines. Then, a sacrifice fly brought the Kelton Cronquist home for the early advantage. Watts took the one run cushion and struck out four of the first six batters he faced, and finished with 11 strikeouts and only one walk.
The Providence offense threatened often, coming up with at least one hit in every inning, but Smithfield’s defense wouldn’t falter. Justin Peterson finally broke through for the Wolverines in the fourth inning, connecting on a 2-run home run to center field, scoring Jed Jensen and making it 3-0.
Hits kept coming for Providence, but Brennen and Brandt Reese teamed up with Jordan Hansen with runners aboard in consecutive innings to keep the Wolverines at bay. Leadoff hits in the fifth and sixth set up a pair of double-plays for the Smithfield defense, bailing Mora out of several jams late in the game.
“That’s a good team,” Smithfield head coach Vic Bingham said. “I thought Yordley threw a good game, but we have to play the game – catch it, throw it, hit it, we had errors. Most of all we have to score some runs.”
Watts didn’t allow a base-runner for three straight innings, recording five strikeouts during the stretch, including striking out the side in the fifth. With Watts mowing the Blue Sox down, the Wolverines offense stretched the lead to 4-0 going into the final inning on an RBI-single from Tyler Christensen.
However, the Blue Sox had one final push in them.
Down to its final three outs, Smithfield put its first four batters on base, breaking through for its lone run with a bases-loaded RBI-single by Shawn Olsen. Chance Randall was tagged out at third on the play, but the Blue Sox were in business with runners on first and second and nobody out.
“It was one inning at a time,” Watts said. “The second through the sixth felt good, I just kind of cruised. I knew I’d hit a wall eventually, which I did in the seventh, but it was a lot of fun.”
The ensuing batter struck out swinging, and Garrett Schiffman came up with a nice defensive grab on a foul ball behind the plate to get the final out and end the game.
Providence extended its lead in league play to four and a half games over Smithfield with the win, improving to 16-2 and 19-3 overall. Smithfield dropped to 12-7 in league play, and 27-11 overall.
The Blue Sox will be at home for a double-header Saturday starting at 6 p.m. against Pocatello, while the Wolverines host Hyrum at 7:30 p.m.