The Council Rock North baseball players have nicely handled getting on the bus and taking long trips twice in the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs.
The No. 11-seeded Indians knocked off stalwart lefthander Luke Rettig and No. 6 Oxford, 5-1, in a first-round contest Wednesday, and edged rock-solid righthander Adam Grintz and No. 3 Downingtown West, 2-1, in a quarterfinal Friday.
Matt Schram’s squad will travel to Chester County for a third time when it faces No. 7 seed Downingtown East in a semifinal at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
C.R. North nipped Downigntown West on Griffin Peterson’s two-out, RBI single through the middle in the sixth inning. He drove home pinch-runner Matt Kinney from second base.
Lefthander Eric Hoefer, a Princeton recruit who reached the 100-pitch limit with two outs in the sixth, and righthander Nolan Hartwell combined on a six-hitter. Hoefer struck out seven, yielded six hits, and walked three.
Of Hoefer, Schram said, “He struggled early on this season, but he’s pitched really well in his last three or four outings.”
The Indians won despite managing only two hits off Grintz, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior righthander who has committed to Tulane.
C.R. North, which placed second to Bensalem in the Suburban One League National Conference, is seeking its first district crown since 2015. That year, it bested eventual Class 4A state titlist North Penn in the final.
In beating Downingtown West, the Indians (16-6) punched a ticket to the semifinals – and a berth in the state tournament – for the third time in the last four years.
“We expected to be pretty good coming into the season,” Schram said. “We had a lot of arms and some experienced players coming back.”
Shortstop and leadoff man Cavan Tully has been the squad’s offensive spark plug. The Binghamton recruit is batting .371 with 22 RBIs, 22 runs, six doubles, four home runs, and two triples.
Tully was plunked twice against Downingtown West, increasing his season total in the hit-by-pitch category to a whopping 17.
Peterson, a third baseman, outfielder Matt Shenot, first baseman Jason Walter, and catcher Carson Shane have also made key offensive contributions.
Ryan Stalker, a righthanded pitcher who doubles as an outfielder, is expected to start on the mound vs. Downingtown East. “He throws hard, he’s got decent command, and he has a nice curveball,” Schram said.
Downingtown East will likely counter with crafty southpaw and Penn State recruit Hutch Gagnon.
The Indians have been buoyed by an improved defense. “Previously, we were giving aay runs,” Schram said. “We’ve since tightened the screws with our fielding.”
On a roll
No. 16 seed Conestoga looks to continue its Cinderella run in districts when it visits No. 5 Bensalem in a 6A semifinal on Tuesday.
The Pioneers opened with a 6-3 win over No. 17 Harry S Truman; surprised playoff-tested and No. 1 North Penn, 2-1, in the second round; and held off No. 8 Boyertown, 7-6, in Friday’s quarterfinal.
“It’s been so exciting for our kids,” Conestoga coach Matt Diamond said. “They’re enjoying this ride.”
Second baseman and righthander pitcher Owen Margolis and catcher Luke Czepiel, a second-year captain, are among the top hitters for the 13-7 Pioneers.
Outfielder Ryan Buck, outfielder and shortstop Luke Borger, and designated hitter Christian Moesler are likewise threats at the plate.
Conestoga is trying for its first district title since it nipped West Chester Henderson, 7-6, in Class 3A in 2002.
Baseball America projected Penn Charter senior outfielder Mike Siani to be selected in the second round of next month’s Major League Baseball draft.
The 6-foot, 180-pound senior, a lefthander hitter and thrower who committed as a freshman to play at Virginia, is a two-year member of USA Baseball’s under-18 national team.
Baseball America said in its evaluation of Siani that he “has a solid track record hitting against better pitching and some scouts think he might have an above-average or better hit tool down the line.”
Like Siani, La Salle senior catcher Andrew Cossetti could be selected in the draft. The St. Joseph’s recruit has received in-home visits from the Phillies and Dodgers.
Cossetti, a four-year starter for the Catholic League champs, is scheduled to work out for the Phillies Sunday afternoon at Richie Ashburn Field in FDR Park.
The 6-0, 220-pounder is batting .462 with 31 RBIs, 28 runs, 11 doubles and five home runs for the 20-3 Explorers.