Council Rock North blanks Avon Grove to advance in District 1 tourney

NEWTOWN — Efficiency.

Council Rock North used it and an aggressive approach on the base-paths to propel itself to a 6-0 victory over No. 18 Avon Grove and into the second round of District 1 playoffs.

The 15th-seeded Indians had just five hits but they took advantage of five Red Devil errors and pushed six runs across the plate while shutting out the opposition.

“That’s our game plan every time — put the ball in play, make them play defense,’ said CR North head coach Matt Schram. “We know we’re going to run the bases. We’re always going to be aggressive.’

The Rock registered four of those runs, all of which were unearned, in the bottom of the third inning on just three hits — all singles, a walk and one of five errors committed in the contest.

“We haven’t had a defensive game like that all year long,’ said AG head coach Dave Whitcraft. “It was disappointing that we lost that piece today.’

The win puts North into a second-round pairing May 20 at No. 2 Wissahickon.

Much of the credit for the 6-0 win over Avon Grove goes to CR North’s junior class. Led by pitcher Matt Hand, the 11th-graders stood out for the Indians in this one.

On the hill, Hand limited the Devils to just three hits. He also walked just three batters while striking out six.

“I was just trying to get ahead early; trying to pound strikes and make the defense work,’ said Hand. “I was able to get all the pitches in for strikes today — fastballs, breaking balls, everything. I was able to spot up and it worked out for us well.’

Indeed, Avon Grove had just two baserunners through the first four innings. In the fifth, he allowed two more though infielder Andrew Brady, after reaching base on a leadoff single was caught trying to steal second base.

The visitors’ seventh was the only frame in which the Devils had two players on board at the same time but after getting outfielder Zach Long to fly out to left field, Hand finished his day by fanning Brady and outfielder Tyler Bonner.

“Over the season, we’ve been a better hitting team in hitting situationally; we did not do that today,’ added Whitcraft.

“Credit to their pitcher; he was around the dish all day, he had good off-speed stuff, he was confident and he challenged us.’

The junior class also came through, offensively.

With two outs and the sacks jammed in the home third, junior catcher Jared Schram delivered a 2-run single that put the Indians on top, 3-0. Infielder JR Hicks and pinchrunner Tim Casey then pulled off a successful double steal that put North up 4-0.

Shram went back to work in the fifth. After a 2-out walk issued to Hicks that put a pair of runners on board Jared slapped an RBI single that put Rock up, 5-0.

“He’s leading our team in RBIs so he’s kind of clutch for us with runners in scoring position,’ said Coach Schram of his son Jared. “He’s been that way all year for us.’

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