DOWNINGTOWN – Council Rock South pulled off probably one of the biggest – if not the biggest – upset in Golden Hawks’ baseball history Wednesday (May 24) when it knocked off top seed Downingtown West in a 3-0 shutout.
Seeded 17th in the tournament, visiting CR South got a complete game, two-hit effort from junior righthander Brendan Carter, who struck out seven and walked none.
“Brendan threw his best game of the season in a playoff game against the number one seed when we really needed it,” said Hawks head coach Ted Kirner. “He was successful getting ahead of batters early in the count and he pounded the zone.”
South went up 1-0 on a RBI groundout by infielder John Crane in the first inning and added two more in the second on RBIs by rightfielder Bryan Rieser (groundout) and shortstop Matt Smith (single).
“I told the guys before the game that any outsider can look at the game and see that the number 17 seed is playing the goliath of a number one seed,” said Kirner.
“And that number one seed feels really good until Wednesday comes and you have to play.
“That’s what happened yesterday. They weren’t ready for us and they thought they could walk all over us.
“The game was over as we walked off the bus; we were ready and they weren’t.”
Kirner had his team prepared, drawing up a full scouting report on the Whippets even before the Hawks’ 10-2 win over sister school CR North the day before in the opening round of districts.
“That’s not arrogance; I call that being prepared,” said Kirner. “The PIAA puts the bracket out so you can map it out. It’s not like we overlooked North but there’s no harm in being prepared.
Had CR South lost to the Indians, Kirner says he would have handed his reports to CR North coach Matt Schram. With Monday’s games postponed until Tuesday because of rain, Kirner’s preparation was just what the doctor ordered as there would have been no time to scout any second-round district playoff foe.
“We refined everything that we had on them. Every one of our guys had a scouting report, they knew what to expect and it was dead on.”
With one out and the bases loaded in the sixth, Carter escaped the inning unscathed after inducing a 4-6-3 doubleplay. Carter threw just 82 pitches in the playoff.
“We knew how we were going to pitch to their guys and we knew what approach we were going to take with each one of them,” said Kirner.
“We knew Brendan’s strengths and their weaknesses and yesterday, it worked out.”
Tommy Eliason and J.J. Freeman had the lone hits for Downingtown, which entered the contest as three-time Ches-Mont National Conference champs. Junior righthander Drew Britt took the loss for the Whippets, who saw their season end at 17-4.
CR South shortstop Matt Smith was the only multiple hitter in the game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. That comes on the heels of a 2-for-3 performance that included an RBI double against North.
“Matt is a heckuva player; he’s often overlooked because of his size,” said Kirner. “He’s 5-10, 5-11, about 120 pounds soaking wet. But the kid’s strong, he’s very fast, has great lateral movement and has a rocket of an arm.
“He can play small-ball at the plate, he can hit for power. He can shorten his swing up and blast singles – he’s a complete player and he’s a huge part of what we have got going on, the mojo that we’ve created in the last half of the season.”
Third baseman Josh Kim is also performing at a high level late in the season, hitting 2-for-2 with 3 RBI in the win over North and 1-for-2 with a double in the win over Neshaminy that got the Hawks into districts.
Kim has been a standout at CR South for the past four years, but came into this season after signing a National Letter of Intent to play at Villanova.
“He put a lot of pressure on himself early in the year, probably trying to do a little too much. That’s common for guys who sign at the Division I level.
“As soon as he realized that he didn’t have to be super-human, that he’s one of our starting 10 guys that can help the cause, we have been a much more successful team.
“When he’s able to lay a bunt down as a Division I signee, it breeds confidence to the rest of the team that they can also do the little things right.
“That’s what it takes to win.”
The Hawks move on to a district quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 Neshaminy, a 4-3 winner over ninth-seeded Souderton. A win over the Skins puts CR South in states. However, Neshaminy will surely be looking to avenge a late-season loss to the Hawks that cost it a share of the SOL National Conference title.
“It’s nice knowing an opponent,” said Kirner. “They know us just like North did. We know them.
“They want some redemption – we lost to them 3-2 in eight innings. We beat them to get in.”
“They want revenge but more than revenge, they want a way to get into the state tournament.
“They are the home team again; they earned that. We know what we have to do and we have nothing to lose.”
CR South lefthander Zach Mayer, who limited the Skins to a lone run in a six-inning start the last time these two faced off, threw only 65 pitches against North so he’s ready to go.
Neshaminy will probably go with junior righthander Evan Matthews who pitched an inning-plus in the Skins win over Souderton.
District 1 Class 6A Tournament
Council Rock South 3, Downingtown West 0
(May 24 at Downingtown West)
COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH (13-9) 120 000 0 – 3 6 2
DOWNINGTOWN WEST (17-4) 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
WP — Brenden Carter 7IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 7SO; LP — Drew Britt 7IP, 5H, 3R, 1ER, 1BB, 6SO.
RBIs: CRS — John Crane, Matt Smith, Bryan Rieser; D-West — none.
MULTIPLE HITS: CRS — Matt Smith 2-for-4; D-West — none.