District Baseball Preview: Opening Round

By Scott Huff 

There will be ten Suburban One League Quad-A teams in the PIAA District One Playoffs. And six of those teams will begin play on Monday while four teams earned first round byes and begin play on Wednesday.
 
The first round games that are on tap Monday include Central Bucks West at Interboro; Upper Dublin at Conestoga; Spring-Ford at Central Bucks South; Chichester at Pennridge; Upper Darby at Truman; and Garnett Valley at North Penn.
 
Earning the coveted PIAA District One byes were Council Rock North, Neshaminy, Wissahickon, and Plymouth Whitemarsh.
 
The seedings for the playoffs were curious with Council Rock South (9-5) having more conference wins than two of the other SOL schools in the field – and not making the playoffs.
 
 “There is no doubt that the formula has its flaws, and sometimes you have to scratch your head,” said North Penn head coach Bob McCreary. “It all has to do with what is called ‘quality’ wins, and Council Rock South (SOL National) did not have as many quality wins as the teams with eight conference wins - Upper Dublin (SOL American) and CB West (SOL Continental).”
 
“When we lost our last game of the season, I didn’t anticipate that we would be playing in the playoffs,” said Upper Dublin head coach Ed Wall. “But it is a good feeling to be able to move on to a playoff game.”
 
“There is really no reason why that team (CR South) should not be in the playoffs,” said Central Bucks West head coach Jim Ertel. “But we aren’t going to complain. We are very happy to be there.”
 
“I’m very glad that we got to ten (conference) wins,” said Truman head coach Jeff Vitale. “At one time, we were 5-4 in the conference, and if we didn’t win those last five games, we might be in the same situation as Council Rock South.”
 
Another peculiar aspect of the seeding was that no SOL Continental Conference team was awarded a first round bye. 
 
North Penn, Pennridge, and Central Bucks South all finished with a 9-5 mark and a share of the conference title – the same record as Plymouth Whitemarsh which finished second to Wissahickon in the SOL American Conference. PW received a bye.
 
“I really thought that one of us would have gotten a bye,” said Pennridge head coach Tom Nuneviller in reference to his Rams, North Penn, and CB South. “I know that they use a formula to figure all of that out, but it was still a surprise.”
 
“From the way I look at it, there could have been any number of teams that could have gotten byes,” said Central Bucks South head coach Mike Schaefer. “It really makes it tougher to get to states with the extra game, but we’re excited to be playing in the playoffs.”
 
All six of the coaches – McCreary, Wall, Ertel, Vitale, Nuneviller, and Schaefer – agreed that pitching is at a premium during district play.
 
And the gang of six also agreed that any team – on any given day – could beat any other team.
 
Sometimes clichés are indeed the best description.
 
On-Deck – Monday – PIAA District One Quad-A games - All games @ 4 p.m.
 
Garnet Valley [S-14] at North Penn [N-5]
 
Garnet Valley played in the Central League and finished with a record of 10-9 overall. The Knights earned a share of the SOL Continental Conference title with a 9-5 record and a clutch win over Pennridge in the last game of the season.
 
“I’m not one to search out too much about teams we are playing in the playoffs,” said McCreary. “We played in a very competitive league, and we are ready for the playoffs.”
 
The winner of the North Penn-Garnet Valley game will travel to Downingtown East [S-4] on Wednesday.
 
Upper Darby [S-12] at Truman [N-6]
 
Upper Darby played in the Central League and finished with an overall record of 14-5 and has won eight of its last nine games. The Tigers finished in third place in the SOL National Conference with a 10-4 record – winning their last five conference games.
 
“We are going to have to throw our best – Craig McCuch,” said Vitale. “We have to take care of business in that first game and worry about the second round game when that comes up.”
 
The winner of the Truman-Upper Darby game will travel to Great Valley [S-3] on Wednesday.
 
Chichester [S-10] at Pennridge [N-7]
 
Chichester played in the Delaware Valley League and finished the season with an overall record of 9-4. Pennridge ended its season with a 9-5 conference mark and a share of the SOL Continental Conference title.
 
“It is great that we got a home game - we have played well at home,” said Nuneviller. “Just like in any other game, we have to get good pitching and swing the bats.”
 
The winner of the Pennridge-Chichester game will travel to Owen J Roberts [S-2] on Wednesday.
 
Spring-Ford [S-9] at Central Bucks South [N-8]
 
Spring-Ford was the second place finisher in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and had a 14-7 overall mark. CB South finished in a three-way deadlock with Pennridge and North Penn in the SOL Continental Conference with a 9-5 record.
 
“I know we got a very tough draw in the first round,” said Schaefer. “You never know what is going to happen in a playoff game. We can’t wait.”
 
The winner of the Spring-Ford – CB South game will travel to West Chester Henderson [S-1] on Wednesday.
 
Upper Dublin [N-9] atConestoga [S-8]
 
Conestoga plays in the Central League and ended its season with an overall record of 12-6. The Flying Cardinals finished 8-6 in the SOL American Conference.
 
“Any team that makes it to the playoffs is good,” said Wall. “We are going to have our hands full. It should be a great game.”
 
The winner of the Upper Dublin – Conestoga game will travel to Council Rock North [N-1].
 
Central Bucks West [N-10] atInterboro [S-7]
 
Interboro played in the Delaware Valley League and finished with an overall record of 15-3. Interboro has won 10 of its last 11 games. CB West finished in fourth place in the SOL Continental Conference.
 
“I just will tell the players to go out and give it their best,” said Ertel. “Go play your game, and take your chances.”
 
The winner of the CB West – Interboro game will travel to Neshaminy [N-2] on Wednesday.
 
Plymouth Whitemarsh [N-4] will await the winner of the Avon Grove [S-5] – Glen Mills [S-13] on Wednesday.
 
Wissahickon [N-3] will await the winner of the Methacton [S-6] – West Chester East [S-11] on Wednesday.
 
PIAA District One Class AAA Playoffs
 
There really weren’t any surprises in the Class AAA seeding as a pair of Suburban One American Conference teams earned berths in the district playoffs.
 
Both Upper Moreland and Upper Merion played their way into the 2010 postseason. The Golden Bears and the Vikings will compete for the district title – only the winner of the Class AAA playoffs moves on to the state tournament.
 
“If you can win three games, you are in the state playoffs,” said Upper Moreland head coach Ernie Rehr. “I told the kids that we really have nothing to lose.”
 
“Our goal all season was to get back to the playoffs,” said Upper Merion head coach Jason Darnell. “We were looking to get back into the playoffs, and now they are here.”
 
On-Deck – Monday – PIAA District One Class AAA – All games @ 4 p.m.
 
Phoenixville [5] @ Upper Moreland [4]
 
Phoenixville played in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and finished the season with a record of 9-7. Upper Moreland ended its SOL American Conference season with a record of 8-6.
 
“Phoenixville has a couple of outstanding pitchers,” said Rehr. “If we can do any damage against that good pitching, we should be okay.”
 
The winner of the Upper Moreland – Phoenixville game will play the winner of the Holy Ghost Prep [1] versus Upper Perkiomen [8] game on Wednesday.
 
Upper Merion [6] atStrath Haven [3]
 
Strath Haven played in the Central League and finished the season with an overall mark of 11-7. Upper Merion finished fourth in the SOL American Conference with a record of 7-7.
 
“Strath Haven will be looking for some payback, we beat them last year (7-5) in the first round,” said Darnell. “I want us to go into the game loose, and I feel optimistic.”
 
The winner of the Upper Merion – Strath Haven game will play the winner of the Marple Newtown [2] versus Sun Valley [7] game on Wednesday.