Knights looking to learn from defeat

TOWAMENCIN — “Hey, sometimes you need to lose a game.”

Something that is not appreciated in sports is losses. Every team will lose at least one game. That’s a fact. But it is what the team and coach do after the loss that defines the season. This was Coach Kevin Manero’s take after a controversial call ended Friday’s baseball matchup in a 5-4 loss against Pennridge. The Knights were down 5-0 in the 5th inning but strung together two straight innings of great baseball and fell just short. In his 10th year, Manero knows that a young varsity team, such as this one, will be able to learn and grow from this. 

“This is a loss that will lead to many more wins,” Manero said. “I was proud of how they responded after going down. A team that was not as mentally tough probably would’ve packed it in there. But instead, they responded and tacked on a couple of runs.”

This is a loss that will lead to many more wins. I was proud of how they responded after going down. A team that was not as mentally tough probably would’ve packed it in there. But instead, they responded and tacked on a couple of runs.”

— Coach Kevin Manero

Throughout the first 4 innings, the game seemed like it was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Senior Gavin Mikulski started slow but fought back and got out of a bases-loaded jam with a fly out to left. On the other side, junior Aidan Fretz was dealing for Pennridge, not giving up his first hit until the third inning. Both defenses were playing very well and after 4 scoreless innings, both sides started to get the bats working.

The top of the 5th ended up being a 5 run inning for the Rams. Kicked off by an RBI single from senior Outfielder Jack Croyle, the Rams kept adding on. Four straight hits by Pennridge extended their lead to 5-0 after the top half-inning. The Knights wouldn’t go quietly though, getting 2 runs of their own to answer in the bottom half. Senior Jeff Sabater laid down an RBI bunt and fellow senior Evin Sullivan sent a sac fly to deep left driving in a run and cutting the deficit to 3. 

The top of the 6th added on to one of the season stories so far as dominant relief from senior Mike Lennon, out of the bullpen, forced two flyouts and a ground ball to keep Pennridge from inflicting any further damage. 

“You need a pitcher that can step up and keep the game where it is, and he did that,” Manero said. “It took him an inning to settle in, but he was on the rubber, ready to pitch, and working quick and that’s exactly what we want our guys to do.” 

North Penn scored two more runs in the bottom of the 6th. A bases-loaded walk drawn by Sabater and a passed ball allowed for the Knights to draw the game within 1. The Knights did strand the bases loaded to end the inning after senior Nick Manuola punched out the last batter. Lennon continued his dominance in the 7th by stranding a runner on second and getting a strikeout that fired up North Penn’s dugout to end the top half. 

The bottom of the 7th had the Knights 3-4-5 hitters due up and down by a run. Pennridge got a strikeout to start the frame but immediately hit senior RJ Agriss with the next pitch. Junior Ethan Cohen stepped to the plate and grounded too short. Agriss attempted to break up the double play and was controversially called out due to interference, resulting in a double play to end the game. Coach Manero elaborated on his view of the play and how he was happy with how Agriss tried to make a play. 

“He played the game hard, the right way, and I’m proud of him for that,” Manero said. “It defines how we played in the last 4 innings: great.” 

A nail-biting defeat handed the Knights (3-1,1-1) their first loss of the year. North Penn will travel to Souderton on Monday with a 3:45 start time, looking to bounce back.