NEWTOWN – Council Rock South might have had to win its last game of the regular season in order to get into the top 20 teams playing in the District 1 Class 6A tournament but the visiting Golden Hawks certainly had a plan going up against sister school CR North Tuesday, May 23 in their postseason opener.
The idea was to come out swinging the bats and fill up the strike zone, defensively.
Offensively, CR South came through with nine hits including three doubles while senior southpaw Zach Mayer tossed five scoreless frames, staking the Hawks to a 6-0 lead on their way to a convincing 10-2 win over the Indians.
South (12-9) had already rocked North starter Gavin Ferrandino for a pair of runs – Trey Obarowski and Shane Walter crossed on a single, two walks, a pair of errors and a wild pitch – when third baseman Josh Kim stroked a 1-0 pitch into deep left-centerfield for a two-run double.
“All of us – I feel we came into this game looking to swing,” said Kim. “We really wanted to approach this game with an aggressive attitude and that’s what we did.
“We just swung out of our shoes and scored runs.”
The Hawks pushed the lead to 6-0 after adding two more runs in the fourth inning in a rally that was sparked by back-to-back singles by Bryan Rieser and Matt Smith and an RBI single by center fielder Eric Jeronis.
Meanwhile on the hill for South, Mayer pitched to contact, never allowing North to mount any kind of a rally at all.
“My mentality was just to fill up the strike zone,” said Mayer. “I know these kids; they’ve seen harder pitching. I don’t think it’s as much about the strikeouts as it is letting the defense play behind you and make plays and keep the pitch count low.”
North (10-11) didn’t help itself defensively, committing four errors in the game, allowing six walks and watching two more reach base as hit batsmen. The Indians ace, Ferrandino faced 11 batters in just one official inning of play. Kim’s double sent the junior righthander back to the dugout with his team trailing, 4-0.
“We have to take advantage as hitters and as a team of their mistakes,” said Mayer. “They’re not going to make many. It’s playoffs; it’s a high intensity game.
“If they’re going to give you free bases, you gotta take them – you gotta see the pitches and you gotta make their pitchers work, for sure.”
North lefthander Eric Hoefer gave his team a chance to rebound when he entered the game in the second inning and fanned the first three batters he faced in relief of Ferrandino.
“We thought we had a chance to chip away and come back,” said Indians head coach Matt Schram. “When we played these guys in the first game, we got 10 runs on them.
“At that point in the game, we figured – four runs – we can figure out a way to score some runs.”
Mayer had other plays for the Indians, however, limiting Rock North to just four singles, three of which came with two outs.
“Mayer just did a great job today,” added Schram. “He threw the game that he was supposed to throw.”
“He didn’t strike a lot of guys out but he induced a lot of ground balls, a couple double-plays, popouts.
“It’s tough when you draw a great pitcher like that with good command – and he’s crafty.”
The Golden Hawks advance in the tournament to face top seed Downingtown West at 4 p.m. Wednesday on the Whippets’ home field.
South also toppled North the second time the sides squared off this season and in an exhibition game that took place at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton. In the second pairing, the Hawks needed an extra inning but got it done in walkoff fashion when Jeronis slapped a single to right field to score Smith from second base.
While Mayer recorded a save in the rematch and also pitched in the exhibition, he says he recalled the 10-0 early season loss as fuel for the fire.
“I always keep that in the back in my mind as fuel for them,” said Mayer. “I pitched that game and I did not do well at all. I know that was the beginning of the season but I just wanted to change that.
“I wanted to make sure that that was the last time that happened this season and work as hard as I could.”
South pushed the score to 9-0 with three more runs in the visitors’ sixth, a rally sparked by another RBI double by Kim and a run-scoring single by catcher Evan Fisher.
Despite digging themselves into such a large deficit, the Indians kept plugging away, getting a runner into scoring position in the fourth and loading the sacks in the sixth.
North senior Joe Preciado – who finished the game on the hill – finally got the Indians on the scoreboard with an RBI double that score Lucas Feinstein from second base. With runners at the corners and no outs in the seventh, North added another run on Kellen Pecuch’s double-play groundout.
“They definitely don’t go down easy,” added Mayer. “They’re going to make you earn your outs.”
The last time the Hawks faced the Indians in the postseason was 2010 in a District 1 consolation. Both teams had already earned a berth in states so there was not nearly as much at stake that time around.
It was a disappointing ending for North, which started the season on fire, despite having just one returning player in the starting lineup.
“Our guys came out hot with the bats and before you know it, we were 7-1 and everybody was shocked,” said Schram. “Then the game caught up to us. The other teams, which might have been more talented, got better and figured out a way to shut us down.”
With graduation, North says goodbye to Preciado, Pecuch, Zach Deegan, Carl Nowmos, Matt Murphy and Mike Prepiczka.
Council Rock South 10, CR North 2
(May 23 at CR North)
CR SOUTH 040 203 1 – 10 9 1
CR NORTH 000 001 1 – 2 7 4
WP — Zach Mayer 5IP, 0R, 4H, 1BB, 2SO, 0SO; LP — Gavin Ferrandino 1.0IP, 4R, 2H, 3BB, 0SO, 1HB.
MULTIPLE HITS: CRS — Matt Smith 2-for-3, Josh Kim 2-for-2, Bryan Rieser 2-for-3; CRN — Cavan Tully 2-for-4, Tyler Marlow 2-for-4, Joe Preciado 2-for-3.
DOUBLES: CRS — Kim 2, Smith, CRN — Tully, Preciado.
RBI: CRS — Kim 3, Evan Fisher 2, Matt Smith, Eric Jeronis; CRN — Kellen Pecuch, Preciado.
RUNS: CRS — Smith 2, Kim, Fisher, Trey Obarowski, Shane Walter 2, Nick Gallo, Rieser 2; CRN — Tully, Lucas Feinstein.