Council Rock North blanks No. 2 seed Wissahickon

LOWER GWYNEDD — The Wissahickon baseball team just couldn’t get its bats going. The second-seeded Trojans managed just five hits in a 6-0 loss to No. 15 seed Council Rock North Wednesday afternoon in the second round of the District One AAAA playoffs.

The top four batters in the Trojans (14-5) lineup went a combined 1-for-12 in the season-ending defeat. The offense also struggled with getting two-out hits with runners in scoring position.

“We had opportunities with guys on second base probably four or five times today,’ head coach Shannon Gunby said. “Typically we’re getting that big hit that drives guys in. Today we just weren’t able to put it together.’

They had opportunities with runners in scoring position and two outs in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but never converted.

In the second, Julian Osterneck and Connor Freeston hit consecutive two-out singles and Williams Brownlowe worked a walk to load the bases. Jacob Segal followed with a grounder to third where the third baseman stepped on the bag to end the threat.

In the fourth, Matt Shilling singled with one out and stole second after a strikeout. Freeston grounded out to third for the final out.

In the fifth and sixth innings, Blake Rappaport and Shilling hit two-out doubles. Rappaport was stranded when Nick Falso grounded out to third and Shilling was stuck at second when Osterneck flew out to left field.

The Indians (12-7) starting pitcher Noah Hartwell was a big reason why Wissahickon’s offense struggled. The right-hander threw a complete game shutout, striking out five and walking one while scattering five hits.

“(Hartwell) did a good job of pounding the strike zone,’ Gunby said. “His off-speed pitch — he made us chase it a decent amount. That definitely helped make a difference.

“I don’t feel like we squared the ball up a ton today. Their third baseman there had probably ten chances and you think about the balls that were hit to him — I think maybe one or two were hit squared up and pretty solidly. Everything else was a one or two up-bounding ball. Obviously the balls that were hit in the air were routine fly balls. (Hartwell) did a good job of keeping us off-balance enough and their defense played sound.’

Wissahickon’s Logan Willans did not get much help from his defense. Of the six runs he allowed, all but two were unearned. The sophomore went 6.1 innings, struck out three, walked one and allowed nine hits.

CR North pushed two runs across in the first and four in the sixth.

In the first, Brandon McIlwain singled to lead off the game before Willans recorded back-to-back outs. Third baseman Alexander Tappen couldn’t handle a groundball that would have ended the frame. Willans then hit Jared Schram with a pitch and Hartwell ripped a two-run single.

“You talk to your players, I’m sure every coach does this time of year,’ Gunby said. “Mistakes — you hope they don’t hurt you. Obviously you had two outs there and an opportunity to end the inning there and shut down a little bit of a rally for them and it didn’t happen. We held them and our young sophomore pitcher did a great job… One play doesn’t define a ball game ever.’

In the sixth inning, JR Hicks and Hartwell sandwiched singles around a Ryan Becker error to load the bases with no outs. Tappen threw a runner out at the plate for the first out before Matt Hand roped a two-run double. Becker through a runner out at home on the next play for the second out while the score was 4-0.

In a first-and-third situation, Tyler Nowmos stole second and Becker cutoff the throw, but couldn’t get Hand scoring from third. Nowmos scored two batters later on Cole German’s RBI single to give the Indians a 6-0 lead.

Council Rock North advances to the third round of the playoffs and will face No. 10 seed Conestoga, who beat Harriton 3-1, on Friday.

The loss marks the end of the 2015 season for Wissahickon, a season which saw the Trojans go 12-2 in Suburban One League American Conference play and earn a share of the league championship.

“First of all (I told the team) to keep their heads up,’ Gunby said of his message after the game. “The fact that there were a ton of people still sitting here at the very end of the game with two outs is because you made them believe all season long. The way you played and the way you handled yourselves made our fans and parents believe that we had a chance to come back and that’s just because you played your butts off all year long. Our seniors did a great job to leave a great legacy and that’s what I always talk about. What do you leave when you leave here? They left a great legacy and they left something for our guys to look up to and to play towards. We had a great season — you never shy away from the fact that you won a conference championship and finished with a great record and earned a number two seed. Those things are all great and I’m very proud of them and the school and the community are as well.’

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