Fourth inning rally carries Knights to Division Title


Jack of all Trades: North Penn’s Jack Picozzi delivers a pitch for one of 8 strikeouts vs CB West on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (Photo by Nathan Rawa)

TOWAMENCIN – North Penn Baseball notched their eleventh-straight win Tuesday afternoon, defeating Central Bucks West in a thrilling showdown, and capturing their second Colonial Division title in three years. 

The Knights (14-1; 12-1) faced the Bucks (11-5; 8-5) with an opportunity to wrap up the Colonial Division Title. Riding a ten-game winning streak coming in, it seemed surreal for the Knights to let this one slip away. 

But following a scoreless first inning, the Bucks were first to strike in the top of the second inning, picking up back-to-back RBI singles to take a 2-0 lead. Bucks’ pitcher Sam Greer shut down the Knights in the bottom of the inning, recording three consecutive strikeouts after allowing a leadoff base hit. 

Both offenses were stagnant in the third inning, with neither team finding a way to push a run across. In the fourth inning, however, that would change. After shutting down the Bucks offense in the top of the fourth, pitcher Jack Picozzi and the Knights’ offense went to work in the bottom half of the inning.

Leading off for North Penn in the fourth was Kevin Brace. With the team struggling to find some offense, Brace smacked the baseball into left field. 

“I wasn’t trying to do much. I was just trying to put the ball in play,” shared Brace. “I wanted to make them make the plays, and I knew I had the team behind me.”

The North Penn Knights celebrate a 5-3 win that clinched them the SOL Colonial Division title (Photo by Nathan Rawa).

Brace’s hit proved to be the turning point of the game for the Knights, as it sparked what would be one of their most pivotal rallies of the season. 

Recording a hit immediately after Brace was Jack Picozzi, who ripped a ball into right-center field to put runners on second and third with nobody out. With an opportunity to tie the game, Chase Jones stepped up to the plate.

“I was in there looking for a fastball, got a curveball, and drove it down the third base line,” said Jones. “It feels good. It was big.” 

Jones’ clutch hit drove in two runs for North Penn, and knotted up the score at two a piece. The Knights continued to roll, getting back-to-back singles from Brady Dolder and Henry Wetzel to take a 3-2 lead. With runners on second and third, James Mangine tripled to right-center field to tack on two more runs for the Knights. Having this kind of rally in a key game like this showcased the resilience the Knights offense has to offer.  

Having this offensive inning completely turned around the momentum. After a scoreless fifth inning from both sides, the Bucks found some signs of life.

In the top of the sixth, three out of the first four batters for the Bucks recorded a base hit. With the bases loaded and one out, the Bucks scored a run on a walk, cutting the North Penn lead to two. Showing no signs of letting up, Picozzi retired the next two batters to get out of the jam, and keep the Knights lead at 5-3. 

Following a quiet sixth inning for the Knights’ hitters, Picozzi returned to the mound to try and finish the ballgame. Sure enough, without any trouble, Picozzi shut down the Bucks one final time to secure the win and the division title for North Penn. 

“We’ve been on a roll lately and this game says a lot about our team,” said Picozzi. “For us to be able to hold on like that and not let them back in no matter what is big for us.”

Picozzi finished the game with eight strikeouts in his dominant, complete game outing. 

After the game, Knights’ coach Kevin Manero shared his thoughts on his team’s performance and where they stand as the regular season is coming to an end. 

“It’s a great team win and a nice accomplishment for us here in what we hope is one of several accomplishments this year,” shared Manero. “We grinded out some tough at-bats in the first three innings, and I think we had a really good approach at the plate and not trying to do too much. I think that five-run inning has as much to do with what we did before that. 

Getting another strong outing from one of his pitchers, Manero also spoke on the performance of his starting pitcher today. 

“That is a senior coming up in a really big spot there and really wanting it,” said Manero. “Earlier this year we maybe would have taken him out in the sixth inning, but he just had that look today that he was going to go out there and get it done.”

Fighting back in a game like this demonstrates the major qualities of a team that is built for a scary postseason run. With only a week and a half left in the regular season, it will be interesting to see how the Knights continue to ride their momentum and prepare for the postseason.

Coming up next for the Knights is a road game against the Souderton Indians on Thursday, with a chance to avenge their loss from earlier in the season.