Bensalem coach Harry Daut was concerned about trying to beat Suburban One League National Conference baseball rival Council Rock North for a third time this season.
“I didn’t want to play them again,” he said. “They’re a real good team, Eric Hoefer is a talented pitcher, and they were looking for redemption.”
The Owls proved up to the challenge, touching the Princeton-bound Hoefer for five runs in the first three innings and holding off the Indians, 7-5, Thursday afternoon to earn the PIAA District 1 Class 6A championship.
Down by 7-0, C.R. North rallied in the late going at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. Matt Schram’s group tallied four runs in the six and another in the seventh.
But with runners on first and second and one out in the visiting seventh, Bensalem reliever Nick Fossile clinched the historic triumph — and set off a dog-pile celebration near the mound — on a strikeout and fly ball to left field.
The quick-starting Owls totaled 11 singles while capturing the program’s first district title.
“We didn’t think we would hit the ball like we have this year,” senior Stephen Aldrich said. “But practice makes perfect. We’ve hit pretty well from the first game on.”
Bensalem (20-3) will take on District 11 runner-up Parkland (21-4) in the first round of the state tournament at 4 p.m. Monday at Methacton.
The Indians (17-7) will open states against District 12’s runner-up, either Frankford or La Salle, at 4 p.m. Monday at Widener. Frankford (17-1) meets La Salle (20-3) at 4 p.m. Friday at Abraham Lincoln.
The Owls have excelled behind a stellar one-two pitching duo. Senior Stephen Aldrich and junior Nick Dean, both righthanders, have committed to Monmouth and Maryland, respectively.
Dean started against C.R. North and held the Indians to two singles before being lifted after four innings. “Nick was pitching real well,” Daut said. “He got a little tight, so I didn’t want to take any chances with him.”
Dean is 5-2 with a 1.36 ERA and 51 whiffs in 41 1/3 innings; Aldrich, who played second base Thursday and will likely get the ball against Parkland, is 8-1 with a 0.77 ERA and 80 K’s in 54 1/3 innings.
Dean went 3-for-3, including an RBI single in the fourth that made it 6-0, vs. C.R. North; Aldrich (two runs) and leftfielder Jon Revell posted back-to-back RBI singles in the first; and Revell and designated hitter Damon Lavendel did the same in the third.
The Indians’ four-run sixth was highlighted by DH Matt Shenot’s two-run double and RBI singles from infielders Cavan Tully and Nolan Hartwell. Shenot went 3-for-3 with a walk.
“It’s been a battle each time we’ve played them,” Dean said. “Fortunately, we kept our poise at the end and were able to close out the win.”
Council Rock North 000 004 1-5 9 0
Bensalem 212 110 X-7 11 2
WP: Nick Dean. LP:Eric Hoefer. 2B: CRN-Matt Shenot.