TOWAMENCIN >> Kevin Bukowski had a hunch he was going to see another curveball.
And when he did with two on and two out in the top of the second inning, the Central Bucks West senior got a hold of it, sending a ball out to left field and over the fence for a three-run home run.
“I had a feeling I was going to see a curveball,” Bukowski said. “I saw one earlier in that at-bat and then he hung one for me and thankfully, I got that one. Missed that one before but felt good, very relieving. Good feeling.”
Bukowski’s shot capped a five-run frame that gave the 14th-seeded Bucks baseball team the early advantage in Tuesday afternoon’s District 1-6A semifinal against host No. 2 North Penn.
And West’s offense was only getting started.
The Bucks added nine more runs over the next three innings – plating six in batting around in the fifth – as they racked up 15 hits and rolled past their Suburban One League Colonial Division rival, topping the Knights 14-1 in five innings.
“I think our approach just stayed the same, just trying to find a way on base,” said Bukowski, West’s shortstop who is committed to Widener. “I think we had 15-something hits today. I think it was everyone just trying to fight their way on base and not taking selfish at-bats, trying to have at-bats for the team.”
Bukowski finished with four RBIs, collecting his last on a ground-rule double to center in the sixth as he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Alex Valdes went 3-for-4 with three RBIs while starting pitcher Julio Ermigiotti allowed just two hits for CB West (18-6), which lost twice to North Penn in the regular season but scored the first eight runs then pulled away further to knock off its third straight higher-ranked opponent.
The Bucks go for a fourth upset against top-seeded Spring-Ford in the district final 4 p.m. Thursday at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. The Rams defeated No. 5 Plymouth Whitemarsh 5-1 in the other semifinal.
“The guys have been really loose and I think there’s a confidence that doesn’t approach arrogance,” Central Bucks West coach Brian Weaver said. “They’re just a confident bunch and again it doesn’t really matter who’s in the other dugout right now, our message is going to be the same – execute on the mound, execute in the field and execute in the box and if we play our best game, let’s just see what happens.
“And they’ve really bought into that and they never really get too high or too low like emotionally they’re a pretty steady team. So it’s just kind of like hey we got another one Thursday and then we got another one Monday.”
North Penn (18-5) was looking to reach its first district final since 2017 but instead hosts PW in the third-place game Thursday. Both teams have already clinched spots in the PIAA tournament.
“We really got beaten in every facet of the game today and it’s a unique sport in that every once in a while you have a day like that,” Knights coach Kevin Manero said. “But luckily for us, we won enough games this year and put ourselves in a position that we were able to offer to have a game like that and not have our season be over.”
CB West got at least one hit from all nine spots in the lineup. Jack Hogenauer, batting ninth, went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Bill Zentmayer was 2-for-4 with two RBIS and a run scored while Quinn Illig finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
“I think we just have good team chemistry and I think hitting’s contagious,” Valdes said. “When we all hit, everybody keeps hitting. It’s much easier to hit when everybody else hits before you.”
Ermigiotti did not give up a hit until the fourth, the right-hander allowing one unearned run while walking one and striking out five in a complete-game effort.
“Today, he did a great job of working around – we kicked the ball a couple of times and he worked around it for the most part,” said Weaver of Ermigiotti. “And he does a great job of staying level-headed in all situations.”
NP starting pitcher Trevor Lugara took the loss, the lefty allowing seven runs – two earned – on seven hits in three innings. He did not have a walk or strikeout.
“He didn’t have his good stuff today,” Manero said. “He looked great in the first inning, hitting spots real well and getting early contact and early outs. And then after that just sort of up in the zone, didn’t have that good late life on his ball that he normally has where he gets some good run.”
Sam Greer started the top of the second reaching second base after an error then scored Tuesday’s opening run on Valdes’ one-out RBI single. Valdes went first-to-third on an Illig single to right center then came to make it 2-0 on Hogenauer’s two-out RBI single to the left side of the infield.
The next at-bat, Bukowski connected on his three-run homer and after being held to three runs in both losses to North Penn earlier this season, West had raced out to a 5-0 lead.
“Off the bat I wasn’t sure cause I saw him kind of scaling the wall,” Bukowski said. “And I was praying that he wasn’t going to take it away from me but thankful it got out of here.”
The Bucks extended their lead to 7-0 with a pair of runs in the third. Valdes drove in the first with an RBI single that took a big bounce over the shortstop. Illig followed with an RBI sac fly.
“It’s easy to get a five-run lead against a team like this and all off a sudden if you keep hanging donuts, they’re going to find a way back in,” Weaver said. “And that’s something that we did in the last couple of rounds we did it against Methacton and Coatesville, we found a way to keep adding on. And that’s the biggest thing and it’s coming from all parts of our lineup and that’s big, too, is that everybody’s contributing.”
Greer’s RBI single in the top of the fourth had West up 8-0 before North Penn scored its lone run in the bottom of the inning. Chase Jones led off reaching second on an error then scored three batters later on a James Mangine two-out RBI single.
Luke Chartrand’s single to right put two runners on for the Knights but Ermigiotti ended the inning when Mangine got out on a fielder’s choice to third on the next at-bat.
The Bucks began the top of the sixth with five straight hits. After singles from Illig and Matt Carr, Hogenauer made it 9-1 with an RBI base hit that scored Illig. Bukowski belted a RBI ground-rule double to center with Zentmayer pushing the margin to 12-1 with a two-RBI single.
Zentmayer went to third on a Max McGlone fly out to right. After a Greer walk, Zentmayer scored on a Will Hogenauer RBI groundout. Valdes posted his third RBI single of the afternoon for a 14-1 lead.
District 1-6A Semifinals
(14) Central Bucks West 14, (2) North Penn 1 (5)
Central Bucks West 052 16 – 14 15 4
North Penn 000 10 – 1 2 1
WP: Julio Ermigiotti 5 IP 2 H 1 R 0 ER 1 BB 5 SO.
LP: Trevor Lugara 3 IP 9 7 H 7 R 2 ER 0 BB 0 SO.
2B: CBW-Kevin Bukowski; HR: CBW-Bukowski.
Central Bucks West: Bukowski 2-3, 4 RBI, 2 R; Sam Greer 2 R; Jack Hogenauer 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 R; Quinn Illig 2-3, RBI, R; Alex Valdes 3-4, 3 RBI; Bill Zentmayer 2-4, 2 RBI, R.