DOYLESTOWN – While its recent matchup between visiting Council Rock North and Central Bucks West might have been a non-league duel, it was hard to tell out there on the diamond.
“Every game is equally important for confidence purposes and for keeping the momentum going,” explained Indians’ first baseman Jason Walter, who tallied the only RBI in the battle for North. “Any win is a big win.”
The Rock’s non-league victory over the Bucks came down to the basic fundamentals of baseball and that’s the only reason why the Indians were able to overcome an early 1-0 deficit and come out on top in a 2-1 triumph that counts toward the District 1 standings.
North played flawlessly in the field while CB West committed a pair of errors, the last of which was a toss into centerfield by the catcher on a double-steal that led to the eventual winning run scored in the fifth inning.
When the Bucks tried to score in similar fashion in the bottom of the frame, the results went in the opposite direction. Pinch-running for CB West infielder Steve Brady, Matt Varallo, reached second base on a pass ball before going to third on a wild pitch. But he was struck down at the plate when he and outfielder Kai Masters tried to pull off a double steal for the Bucks.
In addition to counting in the district standings, the game was important for the Indians, who were coming off a 6-3 loss to Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference rival Pennsbury just two days earlier on the Falcons’ home field.
“It’s always important for us to back up a loss with a win,” said CR North head coach Matt Schram. “We’re inexperienced and we’re young so we’ve got to play every game like it’s the World Series.
“Non-league or not, whoever lines up across the field from us, we’re going full bore.”
The starting pitchers for both sides threw well with both Indians righthander Gavin Ferrandino and CB West righthander Dom Dicicco limiting their respective foes to just three hits, each.
The Bucks pushed a run across in the bottom of the second inning after outfielder Trevor D’Arcy reached on a one-out single to right field, stole second and scored on an RBI single to center by third baseman Matt Cooper.
Dicicco and his CB West associates were still clinging to that lead when the lanky righthander exited the game in the top of the fifth with CR North infielder Kellen Pecuch standing on first base after stroking a single up the middle.
Bucks righthanded reliever Chris Heller – who suffered the loss – surrendered back-to-back singles to sophomore Ryan Stalker and Walter, the second of which deadlocked the sides at a run apiece.
After his pinch-hit single, Stalker scored on the double steal when the catcher’s throw to second base sailed into center field. With runners on the corners, Heller escaped further damage when he caught Tyler Marlow looking at a called third strike.
As they say, however, the damage was already done.
Ironically, the Indians had a pair of runners picked off the basepaths in this game, starting with senior Cole Olshavsky, who led off the fifth inning with a walk. Junior Shane Carson – who led the sixth inning off with a free pass – was also picked off the basepaths.
“The defense played real well and the pitchers threw well but we made a lot of mistakes today,” added Schram. “We made a lot of base-running mistakes.”
For his part, Ferrandino recorded his third win of the season, allowing just three hits while walking three batters and striking out three. Senior Joe Preciado was equally dominant, tossing 2.2 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking none. Headed to Quinnipiac, Big Joe’s most significant strikeout came with a runner on third base and two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
While North had knocked down Varallo trying for home on the double steal, Masters reached third on the throw home. However, Preciado fanned Bucks leadoff hitter Dan Clayton, preserving the lead, and the win.
“Gavin didn’t have a real good outing four of five days ago against Neshaminy so this was his time to get back on the mound, throw the baseball and establish his fastball,” explained Schram.
“This was a good game for him and Joe was also good; Joe is feeling pretty confident right now.”
With the win, the Rock advances to 7-5, overall, 5-2 in the SOL National Division.
CB West, meanwhile, falls to 3-6 overall, 1-5 in the SOL Continental Conference. While disappointed in the outcome, third-year coach Brad Tracy was happy with the level of competition displayed by the Bucks. Pryor to the battle, the coach had been on his players to show more enthusiasm and CB West did not disappoint, in that regard.
“This is the most energetic and enthusiastic that we’ve been all year,” stated Tracy. “We’ve been trying to get (the players) to get excited to be out here and I think the energy from the bench, they felt it on the field.
“We played a real nice game. We made a couple mistakes that, obviously, hurt us in the end.
“You can’t make mistakes against good teams like North.”
For more than four frames, Dicicco kept the Indian hitters off-balance with his over the top delivery. Until the fifth inning when the Rock pushed a pair of runs across, the Bucks righty limited the Indians to a first-inning single to right field by Preciado and a bunt single in the third by leadoff hitter Cavan Tully.
“He’s real tall and he comes over the top. His ball is coming downward the whole time so he’s tough to hit,” explained Tracy, of Dicicco’s delivery. “He couldn’t spot his off-speed pitch so he lived with his fastball and he was able to spot that.”
“We like what he’s done and he works real hard. He’s a good kid – somebody you can build around.”
CB West returned to the diamond this year without the services of 11 seniors who graduated in 2016 including righthanded pitchers Luke Irons and Jake Manka. While cleanup hitter Tom Phillipps is batting over .310, the hits have been tough to come by this season, said Tracy.
“We’re really having trouble putting our offense together with any consistency,” said the coach. “You saw that today. We hit a lot of balls hard but we still scored only one run.”
North missed a golden opportunity to score with two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth inning. Tully’s bullet down the left field line was swallowed up by Phillips however, ending the threat by the Indians.
TOP PHOTO: CB West outfielder Kai Masters (50) slid safely into second base on this play in the fifth inning but the Bucks’ lead runner on third base Matt Varallo was cut down at the plate. Council Rock North junior Cavan Tully (22) covers second for the Indians in 2-1 non-league win April 26 at CB West. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
Council Rock North 2, Central Bucks West 1
(April 26 at CB West)
CR NORTH (7-5, 5-2) 000 020 0 – 2 5 0
CB WEST (1-5, 3-6) 010 000 0 – 1 4 2
WP – Gavin Ferrandino (3-0) 4.1 IP, 1R, 3H, 3BB, 3SO; LP – Chris Heller 0.2IP, 1R, 2H, 0BB, 1SO.
RBI: CRN – Jason Walter; CBW – Matt Cooper.
RUNS SCORED: CRN – Kellen Pechuch, Ryan Stalker; CBW –Trevor D’Arcy.