PERKASIE >> Dan Knechel was thrown into the fire in the bottom of the seventh inning, came out unscathed and afterwards was still trying to figure out how he did it.
“Man, I couldn’t tell you,” the Souderton right-hander said. “It was insane.”
The Indians’ 1-0 lead did not seemed destined to survive when host Pennridge loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. But Knechel — who came in for starter Jordan Morales after Morales hit the 100-pitch limit — found some way for Souderton to escape Kulp Playground with the victory and keep the Indians in the thick of he Suburban One League Continental Conference title chase.
Knechel got outs on the three Rams batters he faced — including a force at home plate for the second out — to earn a well-deserved save and give Big Red the 1-0 win Monday afternoon.
“Knechel is like a cat, he keeps winning with these nine lives,” Souderton coach Mike Childs said. “Look at the circumstances he’s got us out of, it’s unbelievable — Pennsbury, gets the win. Here, gets out of a jam. North Penn, gets us out of a jam. He’s unbelievable.
“We’re getting lucky. And as I said, it’s better to be lucky than be good sometimes.”
But for Pennridge, Souderton’s luck just meant another tough loss — the seventh straight for the Rams — despite a strong effort from starting pitcher Andrew Mayhew.
“Got to give my credit to get to that point, we just all season we haven’t been able to get a hit when we needed it to get over the hump there,” Pennridge coach Tom Nuneviller said. “That would have been a big one for us. Just the way the season’s gone.”
The Indians (11-6, 6-3 conference) — who won their third straight — posted the game’s lone run in the top of the second as an error allowed Brett Moyer to scored on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice from Lucas Kullman.
After that Morales and Mayhew shut down the offenses. Mayhew did not give up a hit in the final five innings while the Rams collected a total of two hits off Morales, although Pennridge had five reach base due to infield errors.
Morales pitched six-plus inning in earning the win, walked three, struck out seven and also picked off a pair of runners at first base.
Mayhew gave up one unearned run on four hits, walked one and struck out seven in taking the loss.
“Pitching’s doing it, we’re just playing defense behind them,” Childs said. “And as a pitcher, sometimes when you think you’re rolling a ground ball as an out and the confidence is not there as a pitcher it’s tough knowing you’re not sure you’re going to get the outs.
“But Jordan overall as a sophomore, do what he’s doing, stepping up in big situations, showing the enthusiasm, aggressiveness and everything else, I’m very happy for him and he’s got a bright future.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) May 9, 2017
The Indians immediate future is a matchup at home Wednesday with SOL Continental leader North Penn at 4:15 p.m.. The teams are even in conference victories at six but the Knights have one fewer loss and have played one fewer conference game.
“It’s going to be a big one. It’s nice that we’re on our home turf,” Childs said. “They were up big on us and we came back on them. I’m sure in their eyes that have payback and we’ve just got to be prepared for it.”
Pennridge, meanwhile, tries to end its skid hosting Central Bucks West 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’ve got some talented kids and for us to play the way we’ve done all season, it’s been pretty frustrating for everyone involved,” Nuneviller said. “It’s baseball, no one’s going to feel sorry for you, so you either stand in there and get good at-bats and make plays or we’re just going to roll over. Hopefully, that’s not what these guys are about. They played a lot of baseball and they played a lot of good baseball and I don’t think we’re going to give up.”
Kolby Rush opened the bottom of the seventh getting to first due to an error on his grounder. Jake Siwert dropped a bunt single on the next at-bat as the Indians could not get Rush and did not cover first base. Sean Yoder then walked, loading the bases as Morales exited due to surpassing the century mark in pitches.
In came Knechel, who struck out pinch hitter Bryce Dickey for the first out. Jimmy Petrick grounded to short and catcher Greg Gallagher scooped up the throw to force out Rush. Nuneviller hit a flair to the right side of the infield chased down by Kullman and Knechel has preserved the one-run lead.
“I thought they were going to squeeze, so that’s what we were talking about before I started throwing,” Knechel said. “Got the first out and I don’t know I was just thinking get out with at least a run, keep it tied. Get our bats going with enthusiasm.”
Souderton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second after Moyer, Derek Freed and David Gulibon hit three straight one-out singles to load the bases. Kullman hit a grounder to short and the Rams tried to force Moyer out at home, but a low throw resulted in an error and Moyer scoring.
Pennridge’s best chance to plate a run before the seventh came in the sixth as the Rams had a runner on third with two outs but Morales got Kyle Yoder to ground out.
Souderton 1, Pennridge 0
Souderton 010 000 0 — 1 4 5
Pennridge 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
WP: Jordan Morales 6 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 3 BB 7 SO.
LP: Andrew Mayhew 7 IP 4 H 1 R 0 ER 1 BB 7 SO.
S: Dan Knechel 1 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 1 SO.
Souderton: Brett Moyer 1-3, R.
Top Photo: Souderton’s Jordan Morales focuses on throwing a strike in the bottom of the first inning against Pennridge during their game on Monday, May 8, 2017. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)