Three outs away from their first state tournament appearance since 2007, the Edwardsville Tigers couldn't close the deal on Monday at the Class 4A Champaign Super-Sectional.
(New Lenox) Providence Catholic junior Dylan Rosa swatted a bases-clearing three-run double with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Celtics rallied for a 6-5 win over Edwardsville at the University of Illinois.
Rosa picked on a first-pitch fastball from Tigers reliever Jordan Hovey and drove it into the left-centerfield alley. The ball hit the artificial turf surface and skipped to the wall as all three baserunners scored to give Providence the dramatic win.
"First pitch, fastball. I just jumped all over it,'' Rosa said. "I was just hoping for a chance. I knew if we could get the bases loaded, I would get it.
"To be able to come through in that situation with the big hit. It feels unbelievable."
Handcuffed by Edwardsville starting pitcher Daniel Lloyd for the first five innings and trailing 4-1, Providence closed to within a run in the sixth on a two-run double by Cam Galgano.
Edwardsville added a run in the top of the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly by Jake Garella to take a 5-3 lead. But it didn't last.
Hovey, the third pitcher used by Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser, walked the leadoff hitter the seventh inning before pinch hitter Niko Cutsulis singled to put runners on first and second.
Both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Ben Salvador and when Zach Pych walked to load the bases, it set for the stage for Rosa.
"In the back of my mind, I kept thinking 'give Dylan a chance, give Dylan a chance.' He's our best hitter and he's come through in those type of situations all year,'' Celtics coach Mark Smith said. "To see that ball hit the turf and roll to the wall and seeing those runners dash around the bases was ... well, I don't know what else to say."
The win lifts Providence (26-14) into the Class 4A State Tournament semifinals on Friday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet where they will take on (Crystal Lake) Prairie Ridge at 3 p.m.
Prairie Ridge defeated Mundelein 9-6 at the Rockford Super-Sectional on Monday.
But for most of the game it appeared that Edwardsville (32-8) would be making its first trip to the state semifinals since 2002, when it placed second in the Class AA state finals.
But the Celtics had other ideas.
"You are never happy to have the season end like this. The game is never over until the last out and unfortunately we fell short today. I'm very proud of how the kids competed," Funkhouser said. "Looking back I thought we had some quality at bats, but there were a couple of times when we didn't execute the way we should have. What is comes down to is that we just didn't score enough runs today."
The Tigers jumped on Celtics starter Mike Madej for three runs in the first inning. Hovey tripled to lead off and scored on a single by Austin Werner. Werner then scored to make it 2-0 and when Madej walked Garella.
Smith pulled him after just five hitters. Celtics ace Jake Godfrey took over on the mound and after Fahd Shakeel drove in the third run of the inning, Godfrey got Jacob Fisher to ground into a 1-2-3 double play to end the Tigers' early uprising.
Godfrey was a 21st round pick of the Atlanta Braves last week in the MLB amateur draft and is an LSU recruit.
Aaron Jackson had a run scoring double off Godfrey in the fifth inning. Garella had his sacrifice fly in the seventh, but other than that, Godfrey kept his team in the game until the offense got going.''
"The plan was to go with (Mike) Madej for as long as we could. If we got three or four innings out of him then we would come with (Jake) Godfrey,'' Smith said. "We got into the situation where we couldn't wait any longer. We just told Jake to go for as long as he could. He did his job. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance.
"After we scored the two runs in the sixth inning, Jake came up to me and said I'm not coming out of the game.''