HORSHAM >> The Hatboro-Horsham baseball team has won plenty of games this season when it gets excellent pitching and timely offense. None of those games were more important than Tuesday’s.
The No. 2 seeded Hatters kept their season alive with a 3-1 win over No. 16 Council Rock South in the District 1 Class-6A playback bracket.
The Suburban One League American Conference champs will host the winner of No. 3 Spring-Ford and No. 12 Downingtown East — a game that was postponed to Wednesday due to weather — Thursday for the fifth seed in District 1 and a trip to the state playoffs.
“It means the world to us,” Hatters’ Brian Edgington said of keeping the season alive. “In the beginning of the year when we had our meetings with the coaches everyone said they wanted a league championship and then we wanted a state berth. We’re just one win away. If we get that win it will mean the world to us as a team.”
Edgington got the ball for the Hatters and the first-team all-league pitcher brought his A-game. He threw a complete game two-hitter. The only run he allowed was unearned to go along with his six strikeouts and three walks.
“(Edgington’s) last two starts — both wins — didn’t have his normal stuff,” Hatters coach Peter Moore said. “When you’re a seasoned pitcher like he is you’ve learned to pitch without your best stuff and that’s what he did the last two times out. Today he was back to having his A-stuff and threw the ball really well for us. Came out with a fire and an attitude and dominated for us. He gave us a chance to play together at least one more time.”
All three of his free passes came in the second inning, when he loaded the bases with one out before striking out back-to-back batters to end the threat.
Edgington — who threw a no-hitter a few weeks ago — was flirting with another going into the sixth inning, but Matt Smith led off with a single. That’s when some drama happened.
Trailing 2-0 with six outs left, Smith stole second base. Josh Kim swung at the pitch and he hit the catcher, Shaun Thomas, on his follow-through. Kim was ruled out and Smith had to go back to first. Instead of a runner on second with no outs and the 2-3-4 hitters batting, the Golden Hawks had a runner on first with one out.
“It’s a book rule,” CR South coach Ted Kirner said of the explanation he received. “(The umpire) had it that no matter what the contact with the catcher that’s an interference call, regardless of the fact that (the catcher) went up and tried to throw the runner out.
“That was a big momentum swing — taking an out away when we have six outs to go. That was a tough call.”
Edgington retired the third and fourth hitters to maintain a 2-0 lead.
Like it has throughout the season, the Hatters offense did just enough to win. They managed just five hits, but took advantage of CR South’s mistakes for their three runs.
“We’re used to (low-scoring games),” Edgington said. “We would love to get a lot of runs, but we’re used to them. We feel very comfortable in our pitching, our defense and then getting good, timely hitting in the right situations.”
In the fourth inning Colin Kennedy scored on a wild pitch and Drew Passerini scored on an error. They made it 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth when Eric Jester scored on a wild pitch.
“We beat ourselves,” Kirner said. “You can’t do that in the playoffs.”
“We practice our base-running every day,” Moore said. “We do live, situational stuff every single day. Once we realized we weren’t going to score a ton of runs, we changed our focus at practice to more situational hitting and running the bases every day. We make them go game-speed just so that they’re used to it and they’ve reacted well to it. When we asked the kids what they like about practice and what they want to do — that’s the type of stuff they want to do. They know that it helps and it pays off in these situations. A lot of times in high school games if you can run the bases hard, you’re going to put pressure on the other team’s defense and force them to make mistakes. That worked out for us today.”
Trey Obarowski scored South’s only run. He reached on a fielder’s choice in the top of the seventh and scored on an error.
Brenden Carter went 5.2 innings in defeat. He struck out five batters and walked three. He allowed three runs — two earned — on five hits.
The loss brings an end to South’s season.
“The year starts off you want to win the league,” Kirner said. “In my opinion, I think the Suburban One National is the hardest league around. That’s a testament to the amount of teams that are still there. We played some fantastic competition and out of our 24 games that we played this year, 19 of them were against teams that made the 20-team playoff … We had to win the last two league games just to even get in the dance and we did. This is our sixth playoff game in a row. All obtainable … We had our opportunities. We have no one else to blame but ourselves. We’ve got to do a better job moving forward.”
Hatboro-Horsham 3, Council Rock South 1
Council Rock South 000 000 1 — 1
Hatboro-Horsham 000 201 x — 3
WP: Brian Edgington 7 IP 6 K 3 BB 2 H 1 R 0 ER
LP: Brenden Carter 5.2 IP 5 K 3 BB 5 H 3 R 2 ER