TOWAMENCIN >> Pennridge playoff hearts are still beating, courtesy of a 5-4, eight-inning victory over North Penn in a game in which the hottest team in the conference again found a way.
“I think all of us are at a loss for words,” Rams right-hander Kailyn Bell said.
Mary Kate Levush loomed large in center and also scored the go-ahead run in the eighth, Bell buckled down and got two tough outs in the bottom half, and collectively Pennridge pulled together to win its sixth straight and even its Suburban One League Continental Mark to 6-6 on the year (11-8 overall).
“I’ve told everybody that their eyes have been on the playoffs,” coach Carol Atkinson said, “and I think this probably could secure it for us.”
Pennridge has one more game to go, a non-conference contest at Quakertown Wednesday night.
North Penn (10-2) was unable to clinch the conference outright but still had a chance if Central Bucks East (8-3) could upset CB South (9-2) later in the evening. A Titan victory would produce a share of the title between NP and South.
“(Pennridge) needed the game big time and we didn’t come ready to play,” Knights coach Rick Torresani said. “I told the girls we’re still tied for the conference (title) — I know they wanted it by themselves but now we gotta shrug this one off and get ready for districts.”
Early on, the Knights looked to be on their way to the conference crown with a thud. A three-run homer by starting pitcher Bri Battavio knocked North Penn into the lead, 3-1, in the bottom of the third.
North Penn stretched the margin to 4-1 in the fourth on an RBI single by Brittany Moyer.
Then the Rams began the climb back.
Grace McGinley lined a single to center and came around to score on an error — one of three on the day for the Knights — and then Skylar Hengeveld belted a double to the fence in right center to plate two and tie things at four apiece in the fifth.
The game remained deadlocked into the eighth, when Levush ripped a double to right center. With two outs, McGinley put the ball in play and a throwing error by NP allowed the go-ahead run to come racing home.
North Penn came right back however, getting a pair of singles from Elia Namey and Kariam Bou-Colon to ultimately give the Knights runners on second and third with one out.
“All of us were on our toes,” Bell said. “We wanted tight ‘D.’”
“A little nerve-racking,” Atkinson said of the bottom of the eighth. “I think I have a lot of gray hair now (laugh).”
On a full count, McGinley tracked down a foul pop by Amanda Greaney over near first for out number two.
Then, Moyer lined a shot to right, but Sara Sztenderowicz was there to make the grab for the final out.
“I think we wanted this way more than they did,” Bell said, “because this just brings us a step closer to districts. And that’s what we have our eyes set on. And I think we carried the momentum we had from last week into this week.”
Bell’s complete game included four scoreless innings to close things out.
“She didn’t lose her composure,” Atkinson said. “She stayed cool the whole time on the mound.”