LOWER SALFORD >> Tyler Summarell made sure Senior Day started in full swing.
“He threw me a low ball first, a fastball,” Big Red’s cleanup hitter said of North Penn righty Danny Kirwin, “and then he lifted a fastball right over the plate.
“I put a good swing on it,” Summarell said with a smile, “and the rest is history.”
Summarell’s two-run knock to right center shot Big Red into the lead in their first at-bat. The lead would grow to 4-1 by the third and then the pitching of Blaise Sclafani and Dan Knechel preserved it, sending the surging Indians to a 4-2 win over the Knights and into the top spot in the Suburban One League Continental Conference.
“It was a good lift to come out and jump on them — they’re a tough team,” Summarell said of the Knights (6-3 conference). “As long as we score, we know we can keep the other team’s runs low. This is a huge win. We’re on a streak now and we’re coming together, coming alive I feel like.”
The Indians (7-3 conference) won their sixth in a row heading into a road game Friday at Central Bucks West.
Souderton loaded the bases in the third, with Luke Barnum ripping a first-pitch single and Summarell following with a walk and Brett Moyer reaching on a hit-by-pitch.
North Penn then turned a double play but Barnum raced home, extending the gap to 3-1. An infield single by Sclafani boosted the margin to 4-1 and Souderton was in control.
“Today we did what we had to do,” Big Red coach Mike Childs said.
And that continued onto the mound and into the field.
Souderton turned in several outstanding defensive plays, including a pair by Summarell, the right fielder tracking down two foul pop-ups and converting them to crucial outs.
“I wanted that last one in the last inning,” he said of a foul pop in the seventh that barely eluded him, “but it was a little bit too far away.”
A sliding catch by Summarell retired Ryan Bealer to start North Penn’s third. After Zack Miles lined out, Corey Stouffer legged out an infield single but Sclafani got Billy Collins to fly out to right to end the inning.
Collins’ RBI double to the gap in right center had sliced the early Souderton lead to 2-1 in the second and North Penn got within 4-2 in the fifth when Bealer led off with a walk and later scored on a single by Stouffer.
But the Knights would get no closer, forced to leave a total of nine runners stranded.
“We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of men on base, but we just did not come up with big swings when we needed to,” said Knights coach Kevin Manero, whose team is in action again Thursday, at home against CB South. “I think some of our guys were coming out of their swings a little bit, and on a day when the wind’s blowing, we hit too many soft fly balls.
“Souderton’s pitchers did a real nice job of moving the ball around the zone, mixing speeds and making us a little uncomfortable in the batter’s box. But we gotta be able to dig deep and be a little more aggressive early in the count with men on base.”
Knechel came on in relief in the sixth for Big Red, with two men on and no outs. Nate O’Donnell moved everybody over with a sacrifice bunt and then Summarell made one of his key grabs in foul territory in right, for out number two.
Knechel then calmly got Bealer to fly out to center, ending the threat.
“Blaise did a great job and Knechel has done it all year,” Childs said of the tandem. “He comes in in relief and gets us out of jams.”
Kirwin hung in for the Knights, pitching three straight scoreless frames to keep it 4-2 heading into the top of the seventh.
Knechel battled to a full count against Zack Miles, getting him to line out to center fielder Luke Barnum. Knechel again went to 3-2 against Corey Stouffer, again producing the same result — a lineout to Barnum.
Collins then stepped to the plate and gave it a ride to center, but Barnum made the catch and squeezed it for the final out of the contest.
“It always makes it extra special to go out with a bang,” Summarell said of the afternoon, for he and his fellow seniors.
“For Summarell to spark us in the first inning — all of that was with two outs,” Childs said. “Barnum gets a hit and then Summarell hits a home run. We needed that spark.
“This is a special group without a doubt. It’s great for the seniors. Last year we lost two to North Penn, and for these guys to come back this year and beat a very good North Penn team twice, it’s a hard thing to do. Kevin does a good job with those guys and they have good, solid players.”
Top Photo: Souderton right fielder Thylar Summarell grabs a fly ball in foul territory during the Indians’ game against visiting North Penn on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)