Wolverines blank Smithfield to lock of spot in NUL championship series

<strong>PROVIDENCE—</strong> Less than 24 hours after its big come-from-behind win against Logan, the Providence baseball team concluded the round robin portion of the Northern Utah League tournament with a 9-0 win over Smithfield Tuesday.

“It was amazing that we came back the way we did last night,” Providence head coach Jared Jensen said. “And after giving up 13 runs last night, it was nice to get the shutout tonight. Smithfield is a great team, every night they’re going to come out and put a good team on the field.”

The Wolverines wasted no time blowing the game open, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning. A 1-out single and a walk brought Matt Stranski to the plate with two runners aboard. With a full count Stranski looped an RBI-single to left to score Brad Singer.

The ensuing batter walked to load the bases, bringing Brady Zimmerman to the plate. Zimmerman connected on an infield single to double the lead to 2-0 with the bases still loaded. Dex Bowen doubled the lead again with a 2-RBI single up the middle, and Zimmerman capitalized on a Smithfield throwing error to score from third base.

““It was great,” Jensen said. “It took the pressure off and everyone played loose and had fun the rest of the game.”

In a tournament in which the Wolverines have averaged more than 10 runs per game, Jensen joined in on the scoring with a solo home run in the fifth to make it 6-0. He added another home run blast – a 3-run shot – in the sixth for the final margin.

With the offense firing on all cylinders, Providence starting pitcher Jon Abbott mowed down the Blue Sox lineup. After giving up back-to-back hits to start the game, Abbott jumped ahead of hitters in the pitch count and held Smithfield without another hit through four innings.

“The last thing I needed to do was give up a couple more hits and an early lead,” Abbott said. “I was elevating the ball a little bit. I knew I had to get the ball down to be successful. I try not to think too much and pitch to my strengths and not their weaknesses.”

During one stretch, Abbott struck out seven of the eight batters he faced and finished with eight strikeouts and one walk in four innings on the mound before handing the ball to Skyler Thorpe.

Trailing by five in the fifth inning, the Blue Sox came to life against Thorpe with a 2-out rally.

Back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases for Jordan Hansen, and Thorpe fell behind in the count 3-0 before working it full. Hansen sent the next pitch down the right field line, but it landed inches foul and Thorpe got Hansen to ground out to end the inning. It would be the only chance the Blue Sox would get, as Thorpe held them hitless the rest of the way to earn the save.

Providence has scored 43 runs in four tournament games, including 15 against Logan in a game that saw the Wolverines rally from a 13-0 deficit to win 15-13 on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“We joked about not letting what happened against Logan happen to us tonight,” Jensen said. “Tonight we had guys say stuff about that, and it was good to come out and play well.”

With the win, Providence improved to 4-0 in tournament play and clinched a spot in the best-of-three championship series. The Wolverines await the outcome of the Hyrum/Brigham City game on Wednesday to see who they will face in the championship series, which will be played Friday, Saturday and Monday if necessary. 

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