North Penn rallies past Souderton, clinches share of SOL Continental title

LOWER SALFORD — It’s always an accomplishment when you can secure at least a share of your conference crown, but it’s that much sweeter when the clinching victory comes against a crosstown rival.

That’s exactly what happened Monday as North Penn managed to beat Souderton 5-3 in their second to last game of the regular season.

“Last year they beat us twice so we wanted to come out, we got them already once on our field but we knew today would be a close game so it was big,’ said North Penn third baseman Jared Melone.

It was a tough win for North Penn, who basically came into Souderton and stole a game from the Indians on Senior Day.

Early on the Knights were flat. The team wasn’t up and cheering in their dugout, they couldn’t get good wood on the ball, and they didn’t look all that motivated something their head coach definitely noticed.

In the bottom of the first inning Souderton senior catcher Dylan Morrisette launched a two-run home run over the 316 sign in left to give his team 2-0 from the start.

“I thought we were flat.’ said North Penn coach Kevin Manero. “We had a couple of big games last week, it might’ve been a long weekend, maybe because of prom, I’m not sure but we were a little flat but if you make good pitches and make good plays you’re going to give yourself a chance to win and that’s what we did.’

On top of coming out flat, North Penn starter Kellen Williamson didn’t necessarily have his best stuff on the mound. However, the best pitchers can usually find a way to win, even when they don’t have it, and that’s exactly what he did.

“I don’t think he had his best stuff but he battled,’ said Manero. “He left a couple balls out over the plate that got taken advantage of but he didn’t walk people and if you don’t walk people and make teams swing to get on you’re going to be right there so he was able to give us a solid start.’

His opposition, Aaron Gulibon was sharp all night letting up only six hits and four earned runs while fanning six. The junior probably pitched well enough to win this one, but his defense let him down, committing six errors on the night

“We’re beating ourselves,’ said Souderton dead coach Mike Childs. “He’s (Gulibon) been lights out, he wants the ball in big games but unfortunately we just can’t play behind him. I’ll take blame for it, but this late in the season we can’t just be sitting their saying my bad, we need to step up and make a play.’

Even with the defensive blunders the Indians were able to hold a lead for the first four innings. Unfortunately for them, things began to pile on with two straight errors from their third baseman in the fifth that lead to the game tying runs for the Knights.

Only four players managed to register hits for North Penn on the afternoon as Gulibon kept them guessing with an accurate fastball and an absolutely devastating curve for his out pitch but one player was able to get the best of him, senior Jared Melone.

Melone finished with three of his team’s six hits, including an RBI double in the 7th that tacked on an insurance run for the Knights.

“The pitch was right down the middle, I haven’t been swinging too well lately so I just tried to put it in the gap and hoped the base runner would come home and score,’ he said.

And that’s exactly what happened as he smoked the ball to right-center field for his team’s final tally.

“He’s our best player and has been for two and a half years,’ said Manero of Melone. “That ball that he hit to right center, that was a very big hit at a very big time in the game and that’s what good veteran hitters will do.’

While North Penn is definitely happy to have clinched at least a share of the SOL Continental crown, they know that conference championships don’t necessarily lead to post season success, and are determine to not let their foot off the gas.

“We just need to keep playing good baseball because good baseball will last into the post season,’ said Manero. “A conference championship, while it’s nice, once the post season starts that’s history.’

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