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Rick O'Brien: Mercersburg tops tournament field

The Independent School tourney opens Tuesday, provided the weather cooperates.

If the weather finally cooperates, the Pennsylvania Independent Schools baseball tournament will begin next Tuesday and be held over five days.

The top seeds in the 15-team field are No. 1 Mercersburg Academy, the Mid-Atlantic Prep League champion; No. 2 Malvern Prep, No. 3 Haverford School, and No. 4 Chestnut Hill Academy.

Mercersburg, a private boarding school in the south-central part of the state, about 30 miles southwest of Shippensburg, has a 16-4 record. The Blue Storm received a first-round bye.

The first two rounds will be played at the sites of the higher seeds. The final is scheduled for May 28 at Perkiomen School in Pennsburg.

Germantown Academy is the defending titlist. Spurred by former standout Sean Coyle, the Patriots topped Germantown Friends, 14-4, in last year's final.

Here are Tuesday's first-round matchups:

No. 9 Hill School at No. 8 Friends' Central; No. 12 West-Mont Christian at No. 5 Germantown Academy; No. 13 Germantown Friends at No. 4 Chestnut Hill Academy; No. 14 Abington Friends at No. 3 Haverford School; No. 11 Penn Charter at No. 6 Shipley; No. 10 Episcopal Academy at No. 7 Perkiomen School; and No. 15 Solebury School at No. 2 Malvern Prep.

The best at first. We continue our top-10 baseball rankings with the best first basemen in the Southeastern Pennsylvania.

1. J.T. Crits, Wissahickon, junior. Batting cleanup for the Trojans, he is hitting .482 with 19 RBIs, 13 runs, and eight doubles.

2. Greg Guers, Germantown Academy, senior. The South Carolina Upstate recruit is batting .397 with 17 RBIs, 15 runs, and 3 home runs.

3. Matt Hollenbeck, Hatboro-Horsham, senior. Hollenbeck, also a quality pitcher, is hitting .434 with 23 RBIs. He is ticketed for Georgetown.

4. Brian Leon, Marple Newtown, senior. He is batting .442 with 15 runs, 12 RBIs, and 5 doubles.

5. Joe Forcellini, La Salle, senior. From the cleanup spot, Forcellini is hitting .565 with 21 RBIs, 14 runs, and 7 doubles.

6. Mark Gervasi, Central, senior. With a .511 average, Gervasi heads the Lancers' bid for a Public League title.

7. Nick Craig, Haverford School, senior. Batting second for the Fords, he was batting .417 with 27 runs, eight RBIs, and six doubles.

8. Derek Prucnal, West Chester East, senior. In 19 games, Prucnal is hitting .358 with 22 runs, 16 RBIs, and 3 doubles.

9. Matt Primavera, Chestnut Hill Academy, junior. Primavera has sparked the Blue Devils from the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

10. Colin Cooke, Roman Catholic, junior. In a game last week against Catholic League Red Division rival La Salle, he went yard three times.

Ten others to watch, listed alphabetically: Pat Campion, Norristown, junior; Joey Casselbery, Methacton, junior; Tyler Criniti, GAMP, junior; Marques DeLeon, Southern, junior; Ryan Downs, Council Rock South, senior; Julian Heller, Penncrest, senior; John Loughery, Penn Charter, senior; Skyler Mornhinweg, St. Joseph's Prep, junior; Tim Sheaffer, Pennsbury, senior; Rich Young, Monsignor Bonner, senior.

Extra bases. La Salle senior righthander Nick Burns is 6-0 with a 2.46 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 392/3 innings. . . . Bensalem's hitting catalysts are Anthony Micalizzi (.463), Frank Primavera (.416), and Harry Daut (.408). . . . With its 13-4 win Saturday over next-door neighbor Council Rock South, Council Rock North clinched the Suburban One League National Conference crown. The Indians also earned the Frank Mason Unity trophy, given annually to the North-South victor. Mason, who died in 2004, was a longtime Council Rock School District employee and worked at both schools. . . . Abington's Chris Ruhl, a junior first baseman, is batting .395 with a .435 on-base percentage.

Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10


Team Record

Records are through Tuesday.

Last week's rankings in parentheses.

1. Council Rock N. (1) 16-1

2. Neumann-Goretti (2) 16-0

3. Malvern Prep (5) 16-5

4. W.C. Henderson (6) 16-4

5. Downingtown E. (7) 17-3

6. Council Rock S. (4) 14-3

7. W.C. East (3) 16-3

8. Spring-Ford (NR) 17-4

9. Marple Newtown (9) 16-3

10. Haverford School (NR) 19-5

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Chestnut Hill Academy (18-5), Conestoga (15-3), Germantown Academy (13-7), Monsignor Bonner (13-4), Owen J. Roberts (14-5), Pennridge (12-5).

- Rick O'Brien