Knights roll past Warriors in opening round of Districts


Nathan Rawa

North Penn’s Trevor Lugara tosses a pitch in the Knights win over West Chester Henderson

TOWAMENCIN – It was an all-around dominating performance for the Colonial Division Champions on Wednesday afternoon, as North Penn routed West Chester Henderson, 9-0. 

The Knights (#2 seed) faced off against the Warriors (#15 seed) in the first round of the PIAA District 1 Tournament. In what was the first playoff game for much of the Knights’ squad, there were no signs of rust or anxiety at any point in the game. 

The Warriors were held scoreless in the top of the first inning after a leadoff double. Hoping to get off to a fast start on offense, the bats for the Knights heated up right away. 

Leading off for the Knights in the bottom of the first was Justin Egner, who ripped a ball right back up the middle on the first pitch. This would be the start of a major inning for North Penn. 

Following back-to-back walks from Jack Picozzi and Chase Jones, Ben Farley stepped up to the plate with one out and bases loaded. Looking to capitalize on a great opportunity, Farley shot a ball into left field, scoring two runs, and giving the Knights an early advantage. 

I was just trying to stay consistent, hunt fastballs, and drive in some runs

— Ben Farley

“I was just trying to stay consistent, hunt fastballs, and drive in some runs,” shared Farley. 

Later on in the inning, the Knights tacked on another run on an RBI single from Henry Wetzel. With two runners on base with two outs in the inning, James Mangine got his chance to extend the lead for North Penn. 

“I heard my team supporting me, and I just went up there comfortable,” said Mangine. “I was just sitting on a fastball and it came to me, so I hit it.”

Mangine ripped the ball into the gap in left-center field, and flew around the bases. Driving in two runs, Mangine made it all the way to third with a crucial two-run triple that extended the lead to 5-0. Great awareness and instincts would allow Mangine to later score on a wild pitch, adding yet another run to the Knights’ total, as they ended the first inning leading 6-0. 

“That first inning was big,” said Knights’ head coach Kevin Manero. “Justin coming up and hitting right away was big; he set the tone right there.” 

Keeping a lead in the playoffs is not an easy task. The Knights have been a strong defensive team throughout the entire season, and that continued during this game. 

Pitching for the Knights was Trevor Lugara, a sophomore who has excelled in every opportunity he has been given. That continued again Wednesday. Lugara threw six shutout innings, allowing only six hits, striking out five, and allowing zero walks. 

“I was a little nervous at first,” shared Lugara. “Once we got that six piece in the first inning, everything went smoothly from there.”

Surely, it did. The Knights carried their 6-0 into the bottom of the fourth inning, an inning where they would add on some insurance runs. 

James Mangine picked up another hit to leadoff the inning. After a sacrifice bunt from Mo Sgro, Justin Egner picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice, opening up a 7-0 lead for North Penn. Later in the inning, Chase Jones reached on an infield single, setting up Ben Farley with another chance to come through in a big spot for his team. Yet again, Farley delivered, picking up a two-run single to extend the lead to 9-0. 

Neither team would score the rest of the way, and Henry Wetzel would come in for the top of the seventh inning to shut the door on the ballgame. Wetzel retired all three batters he faced, sealing the win for the Knights. 

While scoring nine runs is always huge, having such dominant pitching is even bigger. For his first playoff start, Trevor Lugara was fantastic and a major reason his team came away with the win. Coach Manero was beyond impressed and delighted with his starting pitcher’s performance. 

“Trevor was outstanding today,” said Manero. “That’s a tenth grader going out there throwing his first ever high school playoff game, and he just got after it.”

Members of Hatfield-Towamencin Baseball celebrate post game with the Knights after their District One playoff win over WC Henderson. (Photo by Courtney Dolder )

Continuing to praise Lugara’s performance, Manero discussed the importance of having a pitcher that can throw multiple pitches that can all reach the strike zone. 

“He was pitching guys backwards the second time through [the order] and keeping them off balance,” added Manero. “That’s a quality performance right there in using all of his pitches for strikes.”

With Lugara and Wetzel’s outstanding performances on the mound and the dominance of the Knights’ offense, the Warriors stood no chance in this game. 

Coming off an up-and-down past couple of weeks, it was unclear how the Knights would come out and play in this first game of the 2023 playoffs. However, everything looked fantastic for the North Penn squad this time, as they look to continue this play next round and the rest of their games.

Coming up next for the Knights is a home matchup against the Quakertown Panthers on Friday afternoon, with the winner securing a bid to the PIAA 6A state tournament.