SOL District Baseball Preview (5-22-15)
Four SOL teams will be in action in district tournament – three at the Class AAAA level and one in Class AA play. Check back for a recap of all the games.
Chris Binet’s future is in the sport of golf.
The Springfield Township senior has committed to take his talent on the links to McDaniel College, but this spring, he has been a key player for the Spartans.
“Chris early on and midseason has basically been our offensive producer,” coach Dennis Primavera said. “He’s been a monster at the plate. He was consistently close to a .500 batting average.
“He’s been steady defensively, but his forte is his offensive ability. He’s got great hand-eye coordination because he’s a natural athlete.”
Binet, who closed the regular season with a .421 average, has four home runs on the season – interestingly, he’s hit two in two games, and one in each of those games was a grand slam. He leads the Spartans in hits (24) and has accounted for more than a quarter of his team’s 80 RBIs with a team-leading 23. Nine of his hits went for extra bases – he has three doubles, two triples and four homers.
According to Primavera, Binet’s sweet stroke at the plate is directly tied to his golf skills.
“That’s exactly where he got it,” the Spartans’ coach said. “Where he got his swing, he got from his grip.
“We try to teach the kids – even when I have little kids, I tape their knuckles. When they hold the bat, their knuckles are supposed to line up on both hands. Chris hits that way. Chris looks like he has a five-iron in his hands. That’s how he swings the bat, and that’s how he gets his wrists going forward and his hands – he has great wrist action. As a golfer, you have to use your legs and hips, so he’s got all the tools he needs to have. He’s a very coachable kid, and he’s just a pleasure to have on the team. I’ve had him for four years, and I’m going to miss him.”
The third-seed Spartans will face second-seeded New Hope-Solebury in Friday’s District One AA semifinal game. It is a rematch of last year’s district semifinal – an 8-6 Spartan win. They also defeated the Lions two years ago in district play.
“I’m not sure the seedings are correct – we get no recognition for the fact that we play in a league where we’re David and everybody else is Goliath,” Primavera said. “We played New Hope the last two years, and we hope to continue to have success. They’re there for a reason – they have a good squad.
“We’re going to need to play our ‘A’ game, and that includes using our intelligence and using our physical ability at the same time. That’s how teams win. I think the kids are ready. They’ve been practicing hard all week. We’re coming together – the kids are understanding what they have to do. We’re prepared.”
The Spartans, the four-time defending district champions, are led by a strong senior class. In addition to Binet, Julian Salzer has had a big year. He hit .415 in the regular season with 22 hits – five for extra bases – and 12 RBIs. Senior Mike Johnston batted .367 with 18 hits, including three doubles and three triples, and D’Andre Johnson hit at a .322 clip. Junior Cory Cotton batted .308 during the regular season. Salzer will get the starting nod on the mound.
DISTRICT ONE AAAA QUARTERFINALS
Three SOL teams will be in action in Friday’s District One AAAA Tournament quarterfinals. The four winners of Friday’s contests will earn spots in the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament. The four losing squads will do battle for one remaining state playoff berth.
- Owen J Roberts (16-6, 13-5 PAC-10) at #3 Pennsbury (17-4, 12-2)
The Falcons will take on their second PAC-10 team in as many games on Friday while Owen J Roberts – which has already sent a pair of SOL schools home for the season – will face its third SOL school in as many games. The Wildcats finished second to Boyertown in the PAC-10 standings and advanced to the PAC-10 Tournament title game where they fell to Spring-Ford.
The winner will take on the winner of the #10 Conestoga vs. #15 Council Rock North contest.
Pennsbury coach joe Pesci says: “We’ve guaranteed ourselves at least two more games. We never look at it – ‘Oh, we lose we’re okay.’ The goal is we want to beat Owen J Roberts because then we guarantee our place in the final four and we guarantee our place in states. You drop a game – you’re at the point now where you still have life. Usually that doesn’t happen. The fact that we were able to get a bye, save pitching and get a win against a good Spring-Ford team – it’s huge to have that peace of mind that if we don’t bring our best game we still have a chance to come back. Obviously, we’re going to be firing out and trying to beat Owen J Roberts, another good PAC-10 team that lost in the championship game. Our goal is to string together a bunch of wins. It’s the old coaching cliché – it’s one game at a time. We’re going to prepare at practice for Owen J Roberts, and hopefully, we can take a win and secure a spot in states.”
How they got here:
•After an opening round bye, Pennsbury defeated 19th-seeded Spring-Ford 8-2. Logan Buell earned the complete game win, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned) while walking three and striking out two. Offensively, the Falcons were led by the two-hit efforts of DJ Endler and Brady McFadden. Tom Augustin (double) and Kyle Marshall both had a pair of RBIs.
•In Monday’s opening round, Owen J Roberts defeated 22nd-seeded Council Rock South 5-3. Corey Hennessey allowed nine hits in a winning effort on the mound. Offensively, the Wildcats were led by Joe Zgleszewski (2-for-4, 2 RBIs), Riley McGinley (2-for-3) and Blake McCourt (2-for-3, RBI). On Wednesday, the Wildcats defeated sixth-seeded Upper Dublin 6-3, opening up a 3-0 lead in the first inning and leading wire to wire. CJ Weaver had two hits and two RBIs and Eric Keppel was 3-for-4.
- Boyertown (18-4, 15-3 PAC-10) at #4 North Penn (16-3, 12-2).
This intriguing quarterfinal matchup pits SOL Continental Conference champion North Penn against PAC-10 powerhouse Boyertown.
The winner will take on the winner of the all-Ches-Mont contest pitting #7 West Chester Rustin against #17 West Chester East.
North Penn coach Kevin Manero says: “It’s a tough field, it really is. Everybody is good. You look at the teams that are still left – it’s going to be competitive. Boyertown has a very rich history with baseball. We played them in the playoffs several years ago back when Bob McCreary was the coach. We scrimmaged them a couple of years ago, so we don’t see them a lot in high school, but we know they’re good. We know their reputation is they don’t make a lot of mistakes and they throw a lot of strikes. It’s a lot like Hatboro-Horsham, so you know you’re going to have to earn everything you get, and I guess that’s the way it should be at this stage in districts.
How they got here:
•North Penn, on the heels of an opening round bye, defeated conference rival and 13th-seeded Hatboro-Horsham 9-3. The top three hitters in the Knights’ lineup accounted for seven hits with Alex Peterson, who had a double, collecting three while Mike Christy (double) and Mason Nadeau both added a pair. Doug Apple also had three hits, including a double, and two RBIs. James Witner earned the win on the mound.
•After an opening round bye, Boyertown rode the strong arm of Andrew Bauer, who improved to 6-0 on the season, to a 9-0 win. The Bears’ right hander needed just 79 pitches to earn the complete game shutout. He allowed just four hits while fanning five and walking none. The Bears – who collected just five hits – were led by the 2-for-3 effort of Ryan Jacobs, who also drove in a pair of runs.
- Council Rock North (12-7, 10-4 SOL) at #10 Conestoga (16-6)
The Indians – perhaps the hottest team in the district tournament – are coming off back-to-back shutout wins over 18th-seeded Avon Grove and second-seeded Wissahickon, both by identical 6-0 scores.
In Conestoga, the Indians could face their toughest challenge. The defending state runner-up Pioneers, who fell to La Salle in last year’s state title game, boast a tradition of excellence. They captured the state crown in 2011. In their two district wins combined, Conestoga has scored 18 runs and pounded out 21 hits.
The winner will face the winner of #3 Pennsbury vs. #11 Owen J Roberts contest.
Council Rock North coach Matt Schram says: “Conestoga has such a rich tradition of good baseball, so we know what we’re walking into. We know it’s going to be a war there. We have to be perfect, we have to be on our game, and we still need to continue staying hot in order for us to be successful. If we miss out on any of those components – teams like Conestoga are too good. They’ll take advantage of that. You can’t stumble right now. You might hit a roadblock, but you can’t stumble. You have to somehow figure how to get it through it.”
How they got here:
•In an opening round game, Council Rock North – behind the standout effort of pitcher Matt Hand – earned a 6-0 win over 18th-seeded Avon Grove. Hand scattered three hits in a complete game shutout. Jared Schram and Brandon McIlwain both had two hits to lead the Indians. Schram had three RBIs. In Wednesday’s 6-0 win over second-seeded Wissahickon, Noah Hartwell was the star on the mound at the plate. He tossed a five-hit shutout and also contributed a pair of hits and drove in a pair of runs. Brandon McIlwain and Jared Schram also both had a pair of hits.
•In its opening round 9-3 win over 23rd-seeded Unionville, Conestoga was led by the two-hit, two-RBI efforts of Ryne Ogren (two doubles), Tom Fogarty (double) and Luke Cziepel (double). Southpaw Brendon Little earned the win on the mound, allowing just four hits while fanning nine and walking one. On Wednesday, the Pioneers rallied from a 5-1 deficit to earn a 9-5 win over 26th-seeded Harriton, Greyson Avots and Angus Mayock had three hits each to lead Conestoga’s 11-hit attack.