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North Penn tops CB West, clinches share of SOL Continental title

DOYLESTOWN >> When Central Bucks West intentionally walked North Penn’s Zack Miles to bring up Corey Stouffer in a tie game in the top of the fifth inning, Stouffer wanted set on making sure the Bucks regretted their choice.

“You want to make it sting a little bit,” he said. “You definitely want to show them they thought the were making the right decision but they definitely weren’t.”

With two on and two outs, Stouffer wrecked the West strategy by bouncing a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Tyler Siddal from second base and put the visiting Knights baseball team up 2-1.

“It was definitely nice because first half of the game we were definitely smoking the ball a lot,” Stouffer said. “Our last few games we’ve been in kind of like a hitting slump, haven’t been hitting the ball very hard. First half of the game, we were hitting the ball hard, but it was just right at people. So when we finally got the break through it was nice.

Starting pitcher Danny Kirwin and the North Penn defense worked out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth then the Knights tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh to top West 4-1 Monday afternoon and clinch at least a share Suburban One League Continental Conference title.

North Penn can seal its third outright conference crown in four seasons with a win at Pennridge 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Our goal is to be where we want to be at the end of the season, but when you have something in front of you that you can get, you go get it,” Knights coach Kevin Manero said. “So we’re going to come out tomorrow ready to play for sure.”

Kirwin earned his second complete-game victory over the Bucks this season, shutting out West after the home side pulled even 1-1 in the bottom of the first. He gave up one earned run on four hits, did not allow a walk and struck out eight.

“You just got to stay down in the zone and my curveball, I could just throw it for a strike today almost every time,” Kirwin said. “If it’s on, it’s usually I can locate it too.”

After North Penn (15-3, 8-3 conference) went up 2-1 in the fifth, CB West (6-11, 4-8) appeared primed to respond in its half of the inning. Rhys Nicholas led off with a single. The Knights tried to force out Nicholas at second on Josh Crecca’s sacrifice bunt, but Nicholas was safe and the Bucks had two on with no outs.

A Steven Gebre sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third. The next at-bat, Nicholas tried to score on Daniel Clayton’s grounder, but second baseman Nate O’Donnell quickly threw to catcher Matt Marino for the tag. Kirwin ended the inning by striking out Thomas Philipps.

“Same story all over again,” West coach Brad Tracy said. “We get on base early on and we don’t get that big hit. Situational hitting has hurt us all year long and hurt us again this year. Our pitchers battled today. Jake (Boehm) came out and threw well and Matt (Cooper) and Chris (Heller) both kept us in the game. But we just haven’t been able to get that big hit all year long when we need that big hit.”

Bucks starter Boehm took the loss, the left-hander giving up two runs — both earned — on eight hits and thee walks in 4 2/3 innings.

North Penn gave itself a cushion with two runs in the seventh. The Knights loaded the bases with one out on back-to-back walks by Ryan Bealer and Miles and Stouffer getting hit by a pitch. Bealer scored on Billy Collins’ RBI sacrifice fly to center. Miles was throw out at third on the play, while Stouffer advanced to second, where he scored from on Joe Picozzi’s RBI single to right field.

“I thought we swung the bat real well today,” Manero said. “Last couple weeks, we’ve been a little soft with the bats, kind of flying open, hitting the ball in the air too much. I thought today we did a real nice job on staying on the ball, we made good contact. They made some plays and we hit into some tough-luck double plays early on.

“I think the approach was right and yeah the fifth inning when we buckled down and got those outs with men in scoring position in the fifth inning, that was just a very good job of us staying headsy, staying within ourselves, not trying to do too much. It was big turning point.”

After the trouble in the fifth, Kirwin put West down in order in both the sixth and seventh.

North Penn came into Monday seventh in the latest District 1-6A power rankings — the top 20 make the playoffs — while CB West was out of the field in 25th. The Bucks visit Council Rock North 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in a game that counts for district then finishes the season hosting Methacton Wednesday and visits Hatboro-Horsham Thursday.

“The second half of the season we’ve been competitive in every game,” Tracy said. “We were talking about the other day, the coaches and I, we’re probably five hits away from being in the districts. We’ve have guys on base every inning, getting guys in scoring position, we just not getting them in. It’s not for lack of effort. We’re out there working hard every day in practice.”

After visiting Pennridge Tuesday, North Penn hosts Hatboro-Horsham 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hostelley Field in its annual Community Knight at the Ballpark.

North Penn needed just two batters to grab a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Siddal opened the game with a single, stole second, took third on a wild pitch then scored on Bealer’s ground out to shortstop.

A Miles double to center and a Stouffer infield base hit put runners on second and third with one out, but Bucks kept it 1-0 with a 6-4-3 double play — the first of the three double plays West turned in the first three innings.

Gebre led off the bottom of the first with a triple to right then scored to make it 1-1 when Clayton reached on an error.

In the top of the fifth, Siddal drew a one-out walk then went to second on a Bealer sacrifice bunt. West chose to walk Miles and Stouffer plate the winning run on the next at-bat.

North Penn 4, Central Bucks West 1
North Penn 100 010 2 — 4 9 1
Central Bucks West 100 000 0 — 1 4 1
WP: Dan Kirwin 7 IP 4 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 8 SO.
LP: Jake Boehm 4.2 IP 8 H 2 R 2 ER 3 BB 0 SO.
2B: NP-Zack Miles; 3B: CBW-Steven Gebre.
North Penn: Corey Stouffer 2-3, RBI; Joe Picozzi 2-4, RBI; Tyler Siddal 2 R; Ryan Bealer RBI, R.
Central Bucks West: Gebre R; Daniel Clayton RBI.

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