Knights squeeze past Souderton for 6th straight

North+Penn+coach+Kevin+Manero+and+senior+Evin+Sullivan+during+the+3rd+inning+of+Wednesday%27s+contest

Colin Davis

North Penn coach Kevin Manero and senior Evin Sullivan during the 3rd inning of Wednesday’s contest

Towamencin – The last time the Knights were at home, it was devastating. They were shut out while allowing 9 runs. The team was frustrated and it had seemed like the season was slowly slipping away after dropping to 5-4. Thirteen days later, North Penn sits at 11-4 and top 10 in District 1. Senior RJ Agriss notes one big difference that led to six straight wins.

“I think we got our swagger back,” Agriss said.

Agriss credited the team calling themselves out after the Bensalem game. Changing their approach and realizing they were not going in the right direction, which led to them changing the dynamic of the team.

“We stayed out here for like 2 hours after that game,” Agriss said. “It was all of us talking and trying to have fun again. We knew how much we wanted to change things and we are doing just that.”

North Penn coach Kevin Manero also has taken notice of the difference in his squad. In his eyes, this is a completely new ball club.

“We’ve just been playing a lot more confidently,” Manero said. “Our approaches to the plate are better and all around we are playing better defense. I think early in the year we were playing not to mess up. A couple of wins can change how you feel about yourselves.”

The Knights used strings of great at bats and solid pitching to defeat Souderton 5-4 on Wednesday evening. Senior Evin Sullivan went 2-3 with an RBI and senior Colin Orndorff went 2-3 as well with 2 RBIs. Fielding was big for the Knights as well as a crucial double play in the top of 7th effectively sealed the game. Starter for North Penn, Junior Dylan Brown struck out 12 over 4 ⅔ innings and Senior Eric Hamilton finished the last 2 ⅓ innings allowing only 1 hit.

“We know games are going to be close, that’s SOL baseball for you,” Agriss said. “Every team wants to win, you just have to go out and want it more.”

We know games are going to be close, that’s SOL baseball for you”

— RJ Agriss

After a leadoff double by junior Shanley Wall, Brown settled in and retired 3 out of the next 4 hitters on strikes. North Penn couldn’t figure anything out in the bottom half either, only getting a single by sophomore Justin Egner.

After 2 singles by senior Alex Morales and sophomore Ethan Warner, Wall came back up in the second and dropped a single that scored Morales. Brown punched out the next hitter for his 6th strikeout of the game. North Penn responded swiftly with a 2 out double by senior Sam Cohen. Senior Ryan Sullivan followed with a single that advanced Cohen. A throw into the outfield on Ryan Sullivan’s steal attempt, allowed Cohen to come home and tie the game at 1 apiece.

The third inning was quiet for the Indians again. Souderton only saw a baserunner due to an error with the leadoff hitter. The error fired up North Penn in the dugout on the field and in the dugout as it was a play they knew they had. Catcher Evin Sullivan was clearly frustrated and used it to rally his guys.

“I feel like me and RJ are both leaders,” Sullivan said. “It’s more of like a good cop and bad cop type thing but, I know the play should have been made. So I let it be known.”

Clearly, it worked as Souderton was mowed down with 3 straight strikeouts. The Knights tacked on a couple more runs to widen the gap in the bottom half. Evin Sullivan and senior Steve Corrado both had singles and Orndorff sent a 2 out double to the outfield that scored both runners.

Souderton responded swiftly with Warner driving a pitch deep and over the left-field fence for a solo home run. The home run cut the lead to 3-2 and applied a bit of pressure to North Penn. After retiring North Penn in order, Souderton kept up the pace offensively. After another error allowed a runner to reach, junior Dante Bruno drove in a run with a single. Morales got another single to give Souderton a 4-3 lead. Eric Hamilton entered and got the final out to stop the bleeding.

Evin Sullivan quickly responded with a deep home run to left-center, tying the game at 4. Knowing the situation they were in Evin just looked to get contact and drive one.

“I was thinking just to drive the ball,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to get under one and just drive it. So I stayed loose and got a hold of it.”

The home run was a major momentum swing in the Knights’ favor. Eric Hamilton entered and continued his dominance out of the pen. He retired the Souderton hitters in order and got an assist and a putout in the process. The bottom half of the sixth leadoff with Orndorff getting his second hit of the ballgame. Cohen followed up with a base knock of his own and set runners at the corners. Agriss got a 2 out single, bringing in Cohen and getting back the lead with a score of 5-4.

“It was just going up there and looking for a pitch to drive,” said Agriss. “He was living away in the zone all game and we adjusted. My teammates got on before me and that is all you can ask for.”

The Knights held at the 5-4 lead and looked to close the door in the top of the 7th. A leadoff single gave Souderton a bit of life. Senior Jacob Horton drove a ball deep to right and Corrado made an excellent play to track down the ball and then double up the runner at first.

“Unbelievable play by Steve, he’s a great outfielder,” Manero said. “He gets good first steps on balls, especially going back. That ball did not look like it was going to be caught but he made a play when we absolutely had to.”
Corrado knew how big the situation was and just looked to make a play to help get the win

“Seeing it at first I thought it was over my head,” Corrado said. “I knew the kid was running so I had to get behind it and I knew how much was riding on that hit so I had to get there.”

After doubling up the runner, Hamilton got a 6-3 putout to end the game and give the Knights six straight in the win column. Even while on a hot streak, Manero knows the foot has to be kept on the gas.

“We have to remember we can’t take a day off,” Manero said. “Every team is gunning for wins right now and no opponent is easier than the other. Even though we are in the last stretch of the season, it is still a long way till the end of the regular season.”

North Penn (11-4, 9-4) looks for their 7th straight victory this Friday against Central Bucks South at 3:45.