Eric Ruth pitched a shutout in North Penn's first-round state playoff win Monday, so he was not scheduled to pitch in the Knights' quarterfinal game against Council Rock North on Thursday.
But it rained Thursday.
Then it rained Friday, and yesterday at Spring-Ford High School's Ram Stadium in Royersford, a rested Ruth started and won his second straight Class AAAA state playoff game, as North Penn beat Council Rock North, 2-1.
North Penn will face North Allegheny at Green Township Park in Scotland, Pa., in tomorrow's semifinal at 4 p.m.
The senior pitched a four-hit complete game, struck out seven batters, and capped a dominant performance by striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh and final inning.
North Penn No. 2 pitcher Mike Bradstreet (1.49 ERA) was scheduled to start the quarterfinal, but when postponements gave Ruth his required three days off between starts and time to recover, Knights head coach Bob McCreary saw a simple decision.
"You've got to win today to play the next game," McCreary said, "so you've got to go with Eric."
Ruth received the run support he needed, but not from the likeliest of candidates.
Council Rock North ace Scott Runzer held the Knights' big bats quiet. Shortstop Robbie Zinsmeister, first baseman Scott Christy, and catcher Matt Albaugh went a combined 1 for 8.
But the bottom of North Penn's order gave Runzer fits.
The Knights began the scoring in the top of the third inning when their seven-hole hitter, third baseman Jimmy Smith (2 for 3, one run, one RBI), led off with a double to left-center. Leftfielder Jake Dunn moved him to third with a groundout, and second baseman Mark Grassie laid down an RBI bunt single to score Smith and give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Smith, Dunn and Grassie combined to go 6 for 9 with a run and two RBIs.
In the bottom of the third inning, however, Council Rock North answered immediately. Catcher Tyler Farrell's RBI groundout scored leftfielder Lee Marvel, who had led off the inning with a single, to tie the game at one.
North Penn then took the lead for good in the top of the fifth.
Smith hit an RBI single to score Christian Radick for the game-winning run.
"Between all three of us - me, Dunn and Grassie - we've been working our butts off the whole season," Smith said. "We finally found our groove where we're hitting the ball confidently."
North Penn 001 010 0 - 2 9 1
C. Rock North 000 000 0 - 0 0 0
WP: Eric Ruth. LP: Scott Runzer.
2B: NP-Jimmy Smith. 3B: CRN-Kelly Adams.