Tense postseason for Hatboro-Horsham

Posted: June 07, 2012

The Hatboro-Horsham baseball team has enjoyed living on the edge in the playoffs. Late-inning victories have been the norm.

Tuesday's PIAA Class AAAA opening-round state matchup against District 11 champion Nazareth followed suit, with the Hatters scratching out a run in the top of the seventh inning and emerging with a 5-4 victory.

"We did what we always do, which is fight to the very end," senior leftfielder and cleanup man Chris Hens said.

In the District 1 quarterfinals, Hatboro-Horsham rallied from a three-run deficit and, with two runs in the seventh, eked out an 8-7 triumph over Downingtown West.

The Hatters' season was three outs from being over in the second round of districts. They trailed West Chester Rustin, 4-1, going into their last at-bat. An error, four walks, and a hit batsman opened the door to an improbable 5-4 victory.

Also, in the third-place game, after a 6-5 semifinal loss to Central Bucks South, the squad exploded for six runs in the sixth to beat Upper Dublin, 10-5.

The road to Penn State continues Thursday, when the Hatters (21-4) take on District 2 titlist Wyoming Valley West (19-5) in a noon quarterfinal at Parkland High in Allentown.

Against Nazareth, senior lefthander Casey O'Donnell struck out 11 in a complete-game victory. He allowed five hits and walked five. Only one of the Blue Eagles' runs was earned.

For the season, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound O'Donnell, who will play at Philadelphia University, is 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 582/3 innings. He has yielded 33 hits.

"You can't just rely on speed in the playoffs," the 18-year-old said. "When you get to this point of the season, with the competition being better, you have to mix things up."

O'Donnell threw 136 pitches against Nazareth.

"I like going late into games," he said. "I feel like I throw harder as the game goes along."

In the sixth, when the Blue Eagles tried to pick off Grant Opalisky, who broke for second base, Casey Saverio raced home from third to forge a 4-4 tie. In the seventh, with the bases loaded, Saverio knocked in Zach Crim with an infield single.

Hatboro-Horsham's offensive spark plugs have included Hens, who is bound for Gwynedd-Mercy; Saverio, a centerfielder and Monmouth recruit; shortstop-pitcher Conner Crookham; and third baseman-pitcher Tyler Zingle.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Hens, a second-year starter, is hitting .442 with 37 RBIs and 22 runs.

"I just go up there looking to drive the ball," he said.

Crookham, an Old Dominion recruit who serves as a closer, is batting .443 with 24 runs and 16 RBIs.

Drossner to Cubs. Jake Drossner, a 6-3, 195-pound senior southpaw for Council Rock North, was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the 23d round (No. 704 overall) of the first-year player draft.

For the Indians this season, Drossner, a Maryland recruit, went 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 39 innings. He walked 22.

Class AAA. Neumann-Goretti, looking to advance to the state semifinals for the second time in four seasons, will face District 11 champion Blue Mountain on Thursday in a 4 p.m. quarterfinal at Muhlenberg High in Laureldale.

The Eagles (14-10) are expected to send junior lefthander Scott Snyder (3-2, 3.59 ERA) to the mound. He likely will be opposed by John LaMotta, a junior righthander with a 3-1 mark, 2.84 ERA, and 33 strikeouts in 32 innings.

The Saints (20-3) are holding back on using senior ace Joey Gorman. The southpaw and St. Joseph's recruit injured his ribs - they were popped back into place three days before he threw 144 pitches in the Catholic League final vs. La Salle - late in the regular season.

In 2009, Neumann-Goretti reached the state semifinals before bowing to District 2's Abington Heights, 9-4.

Extra bases. Twin Valley senior righthander Jared Price, who pitched in Tuesday's 2-0 loss to Neumann-Goretti, was tabbed by the New York Mets in the 33d round (No. 1,010 overall) of the draft. . . . Springfield (Delco) junior shortstop Joe Sheeran batted .627 with 19 RBIs and 19 runs. . . . Strath Haven's offensive leaders were senior Sean Mohollen (.397, 20 RBIs, 19 runs), junior Dave Splain (.354, 12, 17), and sophomore Kevin Mohollen (.354, 12, 25). . . . For Haverford School, junior outfielder Steve Fitzgerald batted .379 with 37 runs and 37 RBIs. Teammate Andrew Landolfi, a senior shortstop, hit .357 with 29 runs and 20 RBIs. . . . Archbishop Ryan's Bob Romano, a sophomore second baseman, batted .364 with 18 RBIs and 12 runs. . . . West Chester Rustin's catalysts were outfielder Matt Gosik (.493, 28 RBIs, 27 runs), first baseman Danny Myers (.429, 15, 12), outfielder Alec O'Dell (.397, 18, 21), and third baseman Kevin Jewitt (.391, 17, 34). . . . Bensalem senior first baseman Harry Daut hit .500 with 24 RBIs and 24 runs. Eric Ruud, a senior third baseman for the Owls, batted .481 with 16 runs and 12 RBIs. . . . Souderton's Scott Giuliano, a senior second baseman and pitcher, hit .429 with 16 runs and 13 RBIs.

Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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