BURBANK — For a No. 3 hitter, Providence's Sean Holt couldn't have asked for more ideal situations than the four times he walked to the batter's box on Tuesday evening.
Facing seemingly overwhelmed pitchers from Valley Torah in a nonleague game, the slugger capitalized on the eight runners on base in his four at-bats — including seven in scoring position — with three hits and seven runs driven in to help the Pioneers notch a 13-1 victory at Schafer Field in Ralph Foy Park.
Holt's three-hit performance highlighted a day in which five starters registered a hit and seven scored runs in the game that was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The win is the third straight for Providence to start the season.
"We're expecting big things from Sean this year, a high RBI total," said fourth-year Pioneers Coach Steven Knez, who also reiterated that he expects this year's squad to match last season's win total of five after the first five games of this season. "With Dante [Cano] and Thomas [Keller] in front of him, there should be no problems getting to 40 or 50."
As a team, Providence sprayed eight hits, but it was 10 walks issued by Valley Torah's pitching that proved to be the ultimate catalyst in the 13 runs scored by the Pioneers, as they were asked to show poise on the base pads and did, most notably from Jonathan Max, who stole three bases.
Providence had no problems from Keller, its starting pitcher, who didn't allow a hit and struck out 11 batters in five innings of work, as he picked up his second win of the season.
"I just wanted to keep the ball down and get ahead of their hitters," said Keller, who didn't allow an earned run and scored three runs himself.
"He was looking good and throwing strikes," Knez said of his starter. "That's where the mercy rule bites us. There's no reason he couldn't throw two more [and complete a no-hitter].
Keller and Cano scored the first two runs of the game on a double off the bat of Holt in the first inning. Later in the inning, Harrison Pyros' sacrifice fly scored Holt, the first of three runs for the sophomore.
Providence added another three runs in the second, sparked again by Holt, whose two-run single scored Keller and Ryan Chow, both of whom drew walks.
With a 6-1 lead in the third, Keller's double plated Marco Angrisani, who led off the inning and reached first base despite striking out. Similarly to the first inning, Holt picked up Keller and Cano with a double to increase the Pioneers' lead to 9-1. A single and a double from Max and Pyros, respectively, scored another three runs, and effectively brought the mercy rule into effect as the lead surpassed double-digits.
Pyros finished the game with three runs batted in. Cano and Holt registered multi-hit games, as they combined for five hits.
"I was just looking for something to hit, and getting the ball in play," said Holt, who picked up his seventh run batted in the one-run fifth inning. "Thomas and Dante have no problems getting to second and third, so I just want to make something happen."
Providence will travel to Sherman Indian and Villanova Prep for its final two games of the nonleague season, and Knez said he expects to win the next two just as he expected wins in the first three.
"These past three games, we were supposed to win by 10 runs," Knez said. "If we won by two tonight, I'd have been upset, and that's a sign of the progression we've made from last year. That's what I demand of them. We did what we were supposed to do, and that's win by 10.
"For the most part, we did pretty well. We have two more preseason games, and I see no reason why we can't be 5-0."
Keller shared his coach's sentiments: "One game at a time. We're going to take them seriously, and not mess around."