TOWAMENCIN >> The near-freezing temperatures and chilling winds proved to be no obstacle.
It was hittin’ weather for the Knights.
“It was a little cold out here but we weren’t complaining,” said leadoff Tyler Siddal, who reached base all four times he stepped to the plate on Thursday. “It was an awesome way to start the conference.”
North Penn pounded out eight hits and scored in bunches, pulling away to an 11-1 victory over the Bucks in six cold but efficient innings.
“I thought we did a good job today of being aggressive,” said Knights coach Kevin Manero, who has his team off to a 4-0 start. “We talked after the first few games about letting too many fastballs go by early and I thought we made a nice adjustment with that today.
“And I think we’re doing a good job of swinging at strikes and not swinging at balls. That’s the key to a good at-bat, forcing pitchers to work a little bit and be ready to hit when you get a good pitch.”
Siddal got it started in the bottom half of the first.
Going against Bucks lefty starter Jake Boehm, the Knights’ leadoff ripped a single down the third-base line and eventually went to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Joe Picozzi singled in Siddal to tie things up at one apiece.
North Penn went in front for good in the second, with Siddal smacking a line-drive single to center to bring in Ryan Bealer and make it 2-1. Jake Drelick knocked a run in, Zack Miles hit a sac fly to right, and another run scored on an error as the Knights’ lead stretched to 5-1.
“We were inside the past couple days, focusing on reading balls out of pitchers’ hands and we were getting our timing down,” Siddal said. “We’re hoping to keep (the hitting) going as long as we can. We take pride in our hitting at North Penn so as long as we can do that every game, we’ll be fine.”
North Penn extended to a 7-1 lead in the third and a double to left by Billy Collins brought around Drelick to make it 8-1. Drelick’s sac fly in the fifth widened the gap and then a two-run, line-drive single to left by Bealer pushed the margin to 11-1 in the sixth, locking up the mercy-rule victory.
Back from the Beach
Returning from its trip to The Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, North Penn continued to not only hit but play solid defense.
“It was awesome. The weather down there — you just can’t beat it,” Siddal said. “The fields are great and the teams are good competition.
“Myrtle was a really good way to start the season for us. Playing on turf and all, we get good reads off the bat so when we come back on these fields, it’s just easy for us.”
Siddal turned in a nice play at third in the top of the sixth, racing to a grounder by Ryan Rudek and making the throw over to first for the third out, forcing West to leave two men on.
Six K’s for Kirwin
Knights right-handed starter Danny Kirwin didn’t allow an earned run in four innings of work, giving up three hits while striking out six and walking four.
West took a 1-0 lead in the first when Rudek walked and eventually scored on an error, but then Kirwin pretty much kept the Bucks off the bases while North Penn built its substantial lead.
“Kirwin looked good. His command is not where he wants it, obviously too many pitches, but the way he looked in the (fourth) inning, he’s got such great stuff, and he just needs to trust his stuff and let it work.” Manero said.
“I think as a pitching staff as a whole, I think we need to do a little bit better job of that. I think we nibble, we force, we press a little bit sometimes and run some deep counts, but I think if we just let our stuff work, we have a lot of guys that can get a lot of outs.”
West hosts William Tennent Friday and North Penn will be back at it Monday, with a non-league contest at Spring-Ford.
“We wanted to get off to a good start,” Siddal said of Thursday’s conference opener. “We were all hyped up during school, looking forward to getting out here.”
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