Council Rock North baseball nips Bensalem to stay unbeaten

BENSALEM – Council Rock North may not have had its best offensive effort of the season Thursday afternoon, April 21 at Bensalem but its pitching was rock solid as the visiting Indians upended the Suburban One National League (SONL) Fighting Owls to remain unbeaten (10-0, 5-0: SONL).

“We didn’t have our best game but our pitching was really great,” said CR North senior outfielder Seth Leuz, whose triple in the third inning sparked a two-run rally by the Indians earning the visitors an early 3-0 lead.

CR North starting righthander Gavin Ferrandino was good – the sophomore allowed just two hits and struck out eight batters in 4.1 innings.

Reliever C.J. Kilgariff was even better. The senior right-hander fanned five of the last nine batters he faced to put this one in the win column for the Indians.

“We really pride ourselves on our pitching and C.J. just happens to be one of our good pitchers,” said Leuz. “We’re glad he’s playing here for North.”

As good as Kilgariff was in this one, he made one mistake and it came on his first pitch in the fifth inning. With a pair of runners on base for the Owls, he tried to blow a ball past Bensalem number three hitter Joey Benedetti. The outfielder belted the ball into left-center for a two run double that drew the Owls within a run.

“It was the first pitch and he was sitting fastball and I threw him a first-pitch fastball and he killed it,” admitted Kilgariff.

“After that, I was mixing in other pitches. The last inning, I was making sure he didn’t come up again.

Make that the last two frames. While Kilgariff allowed a single to right field by shortstop Shawn Puskar to open the sixth, North catcher Jared Schram cut the baserunner down trying to steal second base and senior righty headed to PhillyU struck out the next two batters.

In the seventh, Kilgariff then fanned two of the last three Bensalem batters and retired the side in order, extinguishing any hope of a rally by the second-place Owls (8-3, 4-3: SONL).

After the game, Kilgariff was still grimacing over the two-run double by Benedetti.

“I faced him a lot in Legion ball throughout the years and he’s a pretty good hitter; he hits my fastball pretty well,” admitted C.J. “I’m going to mix in some curves and try to keep him off balance next time.”

Keeping the Indian hitters at bay with his curve ball was Bensalem righthander Dominic Grady, who threw 4.1 scoreless innings in relief of starter Trevor McGee, who was yanked after just 2.2 innings after struggling with his control.

Grady finished the game for the home team. A freshman, he has pitched in eight of the Owls’ 11 duels thus far – all, in relief. In a shutout effort, Grady struck out five batters and allowed only three hits in 4.1 innings of work, his longest outing of the season, thus far.

“He usually pitches maybe one or two innings but man, he was going good,” said Bensalem skipper Harry Dalt. “He was on; he really kept them off balance.”

Grady walked the first batter he faced in the third inning to load the sacks with two outs but he induced a ground ball out to second base by CR North leadoff hitter Cavin Tully to end the frame with no further damage done by the Indians.

That wasn’t the only inning the Rock left runners on base. The Indians stranded a dozen baserunners in this one.

“That is something we have not been doing all year long,” stated CR North head coach Matt Schram. “We’ve been really aggressive on the bases and we’ve been real good at getting RBIs.

“But their lefty did a good job of keeping us at bay at first base and he controlled the running game a lot.

“You have to tip your hat to the other team’s pitchers; they did a good job of executing their pitches.

“If they threw a hundred pitches, I’ll bet 75 of them were off-speed and that kept us off-balance.

“I give those guys credit for challenging us when we had runners in scoring position.”

McGee may have been able to control the Indian baserunners but he certainly didn’t have good command of his pitches in this game. The junior lefthander walked three batters in the first inning, hit a batter in the second and walked three more in the third.

In that inning, Jared Schram led off with a walk before Leuz crushed a ball to left-center for an RBI triple. Third baseman Tyler Nowmos scored Leuz with a sac-fly to center field to put North up, 3-0.

The Indians plated their first run in the initial frame with nary a hit. Tully was issued a free pass to start the game and then shortstop Matt Hand walked with two outs to put a pair of runners on board. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third then Tully came home when the ensuing pickoff throw at third base squirted into left field.

Meanwhile, Ferrandino blanked Bensalem through the first four innings before leaving the game with one out and a pair of runners on in the fifth. He allowed just two hits in recording his third win of the season.

“He threw strikes; he really painted the corner, which is really good,” said Leuz, of the starting effort by the sophomore. “His fastball worked well and his curveball was breaking a little bit and he was getting it off the top.

“It was a good job by him.”

With the win, Council Rock advances to 10-0, the best start by the Indians in years, perhaps decades.

“In all the years that I’ve coached and followed this team I don’t think they’ve ever gotten off to a 10-and-oh start; we’re in uncharted waters.

“And it’s fun. At 10-and-oh, you’re winning a lot of baseball games, so it’s fun.

“The guys have really enjoyed it; they’re enjoying the success – and the publicity.

“People are really starting to talk about it.”

One team that hopes to spoil the Rock’s unblemished record is Holy Ghost Prep, which is also unbeaten. The Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) rival Firebirds travel to Newtown on Saturday to take on the Indians. Both teams are defending District 1 champions with Ghost winning last year in Triple-A crown and North taking the Quad-A title.

NOTES: The only player in the game with multiple hits was North designated hitter James Closser. Batting seventh, the senior headed to Johns Hopkins to play football hit 2-for-3 with a single, a double and a walk. Rung up by the home plate umpire in the first inning with the sacks jammed, the money pitch offered by Trevor McGee was perhaps a little high.

Council Rock North 3, Bensalem 2

(April 21 at Bensalem)

CR NORTH   102 000 0 – 3 6 2

BENSALEM 000 020 0 – 2 4 3

WP — Gavin Ferrandino (3-0); LP — Trevor McGee (2-1).

EXTRA-BASE HITS: CRN — Seth Leuz 3B, James Closser 2B; B — Joey Benedetti 2B.

MULTIPLE HITS: CRN — Closser 2-for-3; B — none.

RBIs: CRN — Seth Leuz, Tyler Nowmos; B — Benedetti 2.

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