McIlwain, Council Rock North punch ticket to states with win over Conestoga

BERWYN — There, the Indians have done it again.

With Friday’s five-inning victory over 10th-seeded Conestoga, Council Rock North won its third consecutive District 1 playoff game. This one — a 12-1 mercy-ruled district quarterfinal triumph over the Pioneers May 22 in Berwyn — earned the 15th-seeded Indians a berth in states.

Next up for North is a district semifinal date with No. 11 Owen J. Roberts, which stunned No. 3 seed Pennsbury 3-1. That battle is set for 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 at Great Valley High School. In the other semifinal, No. 4 North Penn will face 17th-seeded West Chester East, which stunned top seed Interboro 11-7 on May 20 before getting past No. 8 Bayard Rustin 8-4. The Cougars will battle the Knights on Tuesday afternoon (May 26) at Spring-Ford.

Since falling three weeks ago to Abington, the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference runner-up Indians are 7-1 including district playoff wins over No. 18 Avon Grove and No. 2 Wissahickon.

“This is what all the hard work is all about,’ said CR North head coach Matt Schram. “A lot of teams already went home and turned in their uniforms and we’re still playing.’

“And I want to be the last team playing. It takes a while to get here but once you get here, you want to stay for a while.’

Junior righthander Brandon McIlwain recorded the win on the hill in Rock’s win over ‘ Stoga, turning in a complete-game, five-hit effort. Brandon was also a beast with the bat, hitting a pair of home runs that drove three runs across the plate. McIlwain also led the Indians with three runs scored in the contest including the one he scored on a homer to start the game off.

Senior Seth Leuz also had a good day with the bat, hitting 2-for-3 including a double, a pair of RBI and two runs scored. Classmates Noah Hartwell and Cole Hofmann (1-for-4) also accounted for a pair of RBI. Hofmann also scored a run as did senior Cole German (1-for-4) whose only hit — a first-inning double — a went for extra bases. German tallied the winning run in the opening frame, coming across on a single stroked to centerfield by Leuz.

Juniors Matt Hand and Tyler Nowmos each went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Classmate Jared Schram registered just a lone single but reached base all four times he was up to bat including a pair of walks. Senior J.R. Hicks drew three bases on balls, stroked a single and scored a run.

Council Rock registered 10 hits in the contest and chased starter junior Matt Anderson from the hill in the first inning after going up 4-0. Anderson never recorded a single out but he drove home the only run for the Pioneers with a two-out triple in the second inning that scored freshman Luke Czepiel.

The Central League champions, Conestoga committed four errors in the quarterfinal.

Earlier in the week, the Indians stunned SOL American co-champion and second-seeded Wissahickon on the strength of a five-hit shutout tossed by Noah Hartwell. With the bat, Hartwell went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI, helping himself and Rock North to a 6-0 win over the Trojans.

Juniors Jared Schram and Brandon McIlwain also recorded multiple hits for the Indians as each went 2-for-3 in the contest. Matt Hand had the only extra-base hit, a double, and he also drove a pair of runs across for the Rock.

McIlwain scored the winning run, leading the game off with a single to left field and reaching home on a two-out single hit to centerfield by Hartwell.

Up 2-0 after the first inning, the Indians padded the lead with four more runs in the sixth. Schram reached on an error, Hartwell got on board with a bunt single and both scored on Hand’s double to left.

Council Rock had a pair of baserunners cut down at the plate in the inning but Hand eventually scored on a successful double steal that put Tyler Nowmos on second base. Nowmos pushed the score to 6-0, coming around on German’s single to centerfield.

NOTES: Conestoga faces Pennsbury on Tuesday (May 26) in a D-1 consolation matchup on the Falcons’ home field.

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