North Penn tops Hatboro-Horsham to repeat as SOL Continental champion

TOWAMENCIN — It was a good two-year stint at Lansdale Catholic for now North Penn senior Mike Christy. But the chance to further his education at the neighboring public school, as well as patrol shortstop for the Knights baseball team, could not be passed up.

The extravagant Senior Day held for Christy and the 15 upperclassmen was a perfect example of what Christy looked forward to during his one season. The other thing was championships.

“It was really cool seeing everyone with their families and their inspirational teachers they picked (to be honored today),’ Christy said. “I knew here I had a chance to win and do well here. I love every single guy on this team and it is awesome playing together.’

With a 2-1 win over Hatboro-Horsham Wednesday afternoon, Christy and the Knights collected their second straight Suburban One League Continental Conference championship. The win should set North Penn (15-3 overall, 12-2 conference) with a strong seed in the upcoming District 1-AAAA playoffs — another chance to add a championship.

“Starting tomorrow we have to figure out how far we want to go with this thing,’ Knights coach Kevin Manero said. “It’s all 0-0 when the playoffs come around.’

After being escorted onto the field by his parents and receiving a commemorative photo, senior James Witner went to work. The right-hander started against the Hatters for the second time this season. After suffering his lone defeat of the year — a 5-1 loss at Hatboro — Witner finished off the Hatters (12-4 overall, 10-4), deny them a share of the Continental title.

“It hurts because I know how bad these guys wanted it,’ Hatboro-Horsham coach Pete Moore said. “I wanted it for them, with them. Seeing the hurt in them make it hurt me even more. They should be proud, little old Hatboro-Horsham, battling with schools twice the size of us.’

Christy came through in the third inning, lacing a double down the third base line to score the first run of the game. Senior Anthony Cameron reached on a infield single, moved into scoring position after an errant pickoff attempt, and scored on the leadoff hitter’s hack.

“Christy has played with a lot of fire and a lot of pop all year,’ Manero said. “He has been a huge spark at the top of the lineup, played great shortstop. He should go play in college somewhere.’

“It feels good to get out there and be aggressive,’ Christy said. “I like swinging early in the count and that is what it did. One run is almost enough for James, but you do want to tack on runs. James has been awesome all year.’

The Knights added on against Hatboro-Horsham starter Ryan Murphy the next inning. It was the seniors to the rescue again as Zach Zeigler singled in senior Douglas Apple. Senior Jared Melone had three hits in the win. Murphy finished with five innings of work, allowing eight hits and two runs and one of them earned. Murphy had two strikeouts in the loss.

“There was two very tough teams on the field today,’ Manero said. “When you can go through this conference and finish on top it is an accomplishment.’

The Hatters’ best opportunities against Witner was in the final two innings. Eric Lane tripled home a run in the sixth before Witner stranded the tying run 90 feet away. In the seventh, Zeigler made a diving catch in right field to double up the tying run at second base, after he left the base clearly thinking it was not going to be caught.

“Zeigler made one of the best plays I have seen high school in a huge spot,’ Manero said. “We rely on our defense to win us games sometimes and today they came up big.’

Sean Thomas followed that with what would have been the game-tying single. Instead his pinch runner was thrown out stealing to end the game.

“We wanted to get somebody in scoring position,’ Moore said. “We wanted one hit to tie it and unfortunately it did not work out for us.’

They may have fallen a game shy of a conference championship, but Moore’s men will still grace the district field. They feel they are dangerous as anyone, league title to show off or not. It’s all about getting hot in the last weeks of May.

“We have lofty goals and we want to make it to the state tournament,’ Moore said. “We will take it one step at a time. We are anxious to find out who we play in the first round. I hope 10 games gets us a home game.’

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