NEWTOWN – After finishing second in the league last year to Pennsbury, Council Rock North is back on top once again. The Indians – who entered yesterday’s battle with Bensalem tied with the Falcons after dropping two games the previous week to Truman and Abington – mercy-ruled the Owls, 12-2, before coming off the field to learn the Falcons were trailing William Tennent.
Pennsbury lost its last game of the regular season against the Panthers, 9-2, giving sole possession of the Suburban One National League (SONL) title to Rock North (17-3, 11-3: SONL).
While the Indians said they weren’t worried about falling into a temporary tie with the Falcons, they came to the Bensalem battle with senior righthander Matt Hand, their staff ace who is headed to Lehigh.
Hand did not disappoint, limiting the Owls to just two runs on four hits, while striking out nine batters in just four innings of work.
“We slipped the last couple of games but we wanted to pick up the momentum, get back on the winning track and get ready for playoffs,” said Schram. “This was a must-win and he went out there under tough conditions and threw a good game.”
“We were just trying to play together as a team, definitely not panicking or anything,” added Hand.
“We’re still in a really good position going into the playoffs so we just wanted to come out and play our game, try to stay together and get the ‘W.’
“We had to come back out and find our groove again – find our mojo gain after those couple losses,” said head coach Matt Schram. “It was more important to come out and play the brand of baseball that we’ve been playing all year and we did.”
The Rock got out of the gate quickly in this one, tagging Owls sophomore righthander Stephen Aldrich for five runs on nary a hit. Aldrich suffered the loss after walking three batters including Hand with the sacks jammed that put the Indians on top, 1-0.
First baseman Chase D’Arcangelo the crushed a 2-strike pitch over the head of Bill Kohler that glanced off the leftfielder’s glove, sending two more runs across the plate.
While Aldrich retire the next two batters in order, a pass ball and a wild pitch put Rock on top 5-0 by the end of the first inning.
“We needed to score a bunch of runs early, not so much to put anybody away but just for us because that’s the kind of ball we’ve been playing all year – jump up ahead, get some runs early on and work with the lead,” explained Schram.
“Once, we got the lead, we felt like we were back into the swing of things.”
North actually had only four hits in the game, the same number as Bensalem. But the Owls (10-9, 5-8: SOL) committed four errors and four different pitchers combined on nine walks in just three innings.
Rock’s catcher Jared Schram led the Indians with two singles and three RBI, the second of which came in the third inning with the sacks jammed, driving a pair of runs across the plate.
“I felt good,” said Jared. “I was just waiting for my pitch and when I got it, I wasn’t missing it.”
Leftfielder Matt Shenot drove in a pair of runs, the first RBI coming on a grounder in the second inning with runners at second and third and the second coming on a walk with the sacks jammed in the third inning.
Hand walked on all three of his at-bats, the third free pass coming with the bases loaded also in the third inning, driving the 11th run across the plate. A ground ball to short by first baseman Chase D’Arcangelo with the sacks still jammed sent the score to its 12-2 final.
Defensively, Hand zipped through the first inning when he struck out two of the first three batters. But he struggled in the second when Bensalem infielder Trevor McGee led off with a single to left field and Owls designated hitter Ricky Massott followed with a double.
With runners at second and third, Hand struck out the next batter but he gave up an RBI single to Brian Swentkowski and a bases loaded walk to Keith Parrish.
“I was leaving a couple of pitches up, especially my fastball and I wasn’t getting ahead of the hitters like I have all season,” said Hand. “I just talked to Coach (Dan) Krapf in between innings and I just lengthened my stride and it seemed to work.
“I was able to get back and throw strikes so it was good.
Hand slammed the door shut on Bensalem after the second inning, limiting the Owls to a lone single while striking out four of the seven batters he faced.
“I wasn’t worried,” said Hand. “I knew they were going to put the ball in play and I know our defense was going to back me up.”
District 1 playoff action begins Monday, May 23, though North could get a first-round bye sending the Indians to the second round on May 25.
“Right now we’re just trying to keep our energy up,” It’s a long season and we had a couple of bumps in the road – those two losses. We’re just trying to stay positive and pick each other up and I think we did that pretty well today.”
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Council Rock North 12, Bensalem 2
(May 17 at CR North)
BENSALEM 020 0 – 2 4 4
CR NORTH 525 X – 12 4 0
WP – Matt Hand 4IP, 2R, 4H, 2BB, 9SO, 0HB; LP – Stephen Aldrich 1IP, 5R, 0H, 3BB, 1SO, 0HB.
MULTIPLE HITS: CRN – Jared Schram 2-for-2; B – Ricky Massott 2-for-2.
EXTRA BASE HITS: CRN – none; B – Massott 2B.
RBI: CRN – Matt Shenot 2, Schram 3, Hand 2, Chase D’arcangelo; B – Keith Parrish, Brian Swentkowski.