Baseball: Local teams start district journey today
By Peter DiGiovanni
Posted: 05/17/2015 08:11:04 PM EDT
The District 1 Class AAAA playoffs begin today with the 26 teams chasing five spots to advance to the PIAA tournament, which begins June 1.
The new way of seeding teams the district adopted this season, abandoning the old North and South divisions, have given the Suburban One League a big advantage. It also has Central League champion Conestoga and both Ches-Mont League division winners — Downingtown West and West Chester Rustin — playing on the first day. All three teams would have had a first-round bye under the old system.
But the games go on. The most interesting matchup featuring local teams appears to be 23rd-seeded Unionville visting No. 10 Conestoga. The pitching matchup features left-hander Brendon Little for the Pioneers facing Indians ace Alex Pechin. Both teams can hit the baseball. Ryne Ogren leads ’ Stoga with a 456 average, while Pechin and Drew Jarmuz are both over the .400 mark for Unionville
Rustin, the eighth seed, host 25th-seeded Pennridge. The Golden Knights have been smashing the ball all season with first baseman Charlie Concannon recording 10 home runs. Andrew Coleman and Ryan Coates have also had good regular seasons at the plate. The winner will take on with Garnet Valley or Central Bucks East.
No. 7 Downingtown West will entertain No. 26 Harriton of the Central League. Expect the Whippets to throw left-hander Doug Conrad, who was 5-1 on the regular season. The Whippets’ offense got hot late with Ken Jarema and Alex Jankowski leading the attack. The victor takes on the winner of Conestoga-Unionville.
Two more local teams will hit the road for the opening round. West Chester East, the 17th seed, will try to subdue No. 16 Penncrest, a very good offensive team.
The Vikings, who struggled down the stretch, will turn to their ace, Culver Hughes. Jimmy Maguire and Shane Springer have been the big offensive guns for East. The winner gets top-seeded Interboro in Wednesday’s second round.
Avon Grove, the 18th seed, will take the long trip to 15th-seeded Council Rock North. Look for the Red Devils to throw right-hander Mike Dietz against the Indians. Ryan Guckin has been a very effective catcher for Avon Grove and is expected to help carry the offense. The survivor will take on No. 2 Wissahickon.
Fred Hilliard has been the head coach at Malvern Prep for five seasons and has yet have a season end without them celebrating an Inter-Ac title. This is quite an accomplishment for the Friars in a league as tough as the Inter-Ac.
Daily Local News Basball Top 10
(Records through May 17)
1. Malvern Prep (25-6): Friars take fifth straight Inter-Ac crown.
2. Downingtown West (15-4): Whippets hope to advance to to first state title appearance.
3. Conestoga (15-5): Pioneers have tough test in Unionville.
4. W.C. Rustin (17-3): Golden Knights can hit the baseball.
5. Devon Prep (16-3): Tide gear up for another playoff run.
6. Avon Grove (14-5): Red Devils are a solid team but have tough draw.
7. Bishop Shanahan (9-9): Eagles take on Upper Moreland in Class AAA on Tuesday.
8. Unionville (11-8): Indians look to spring surprise over Conestoga.
9. Great Valley (10-9): Patriots finish season over .500.
10. Downingtown East (10-9): Cougars miss playoffs after winning Ches-Mont National last season.