TOWAMENCIN >> As the North Penn baseball team found themselves down 3-2 entering the bottom of the fifth inning in its game against Hatboro-Horsham Thursday, the Knights were at a pivot point of the season.
“It was kind of one of those gut check times,” North Penn head coach Kevin Manero said. “It’s a real big game, it’s late in the game, we got a pitcher out there working really hard, and we needed to get up there and get some early baserunners.”
North Penn did exactly that, as they scored two runs in the fifth to back up a stellar pitching performance from Jared Gorman and get a 4-3 Suburban One League Continental Conference win over Hatboro.
“(We had) some good execution on some bunts, some good swings, and some good hitting with runners in scoring position which we haven’t done in a long time,” Manero said about the decisive inning. “I think every one of us would have liked to have gotten some more runs there…but just to respond and take a lead back was big.”
North Penn (7-4, 4-3 SOL Continental) was able to load the bases to start the fifth inning behind a bloop single by Matt Marino, a bunt single by Ryan Bealer, and a walk by Zack Miles.
Mason Nadeau, who was 1-3 with 2 RBI in the game, started the scoring in the fifth with a ground ball to second that ended with a questionable call as the fielder attempted to transfer the ball from glove to hand. Jack Schuster singled in Miles two batters later and the Knights had a 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“You don’t want to give away runs, you don’t want to give the other team the opportunity to bounce back,” Hatters head coach Pete Moore said. “We talk a lot about having shutdown innings after we score and (keeping) the momentum on our side. Unfortunately we didn’t execute a bunt defense, made an error, and then you’re looking at (North Penn) scoring two runs.”
The reason the 4-3 lead held up for North Penn was thanks to a gem of a pitching performance from Jared Gorman. The starter went the distance in the game, allowing just two hits and two earned runs.
“We’ve got to be careful about making Jared throw too many pitches…but he has just done an outstanding job this year.” Manero said “I can’t say enough about our starting pitching…I feel like once the bats heat up a little bit more we’re going to be in real good shape.”
Gorman threw 98 pitches in the game, which was in part due to three North Penn errors. He also walked two and struck out one. The only hits the starter allowed both came in the fifth.
“I just want to throw strikes and go the whole game,” Gorman said. “(I’m) helping the team out the best I can.”
The Hatters loaded the bases with no out in their half of the fifth as well; which they turned into three runs with a sacrifice fly from Eddie Schultz, an RBI single by Brian Edgington, and another sac fly from Shaun Thomas.
“When you get people on early in the inning, then you can manufacture stuff,” Moore said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting guys on early in the inning so we can make some things happen like that.”
After Hatboro-Horsham (5-5, 3-4) started the fifth with a walk from Drew Passerini and a single by Kyle Katz, Billy Carr reached on an error to load the bases. All three players scored in the inning.
Edgington also started the game for the Hatters on the mound, pitching six innings and allowing just two earned runs.
“Our defense hurt him. We made him throw extra pitches and whatnot, which gave (North Penn) extra opportunities,” Moore said. “He still battled and competed.”
The Hatboro starter worked through three Hatter errors in his complete-game effort. His first two pitches of the game were also ruled illegal, but he settled in nicely after that and registered seven strikeouts.
NORTH PENN 4, HATBORO-HORSHAM 3
Hatboro-Horsham: 000 030 0 – 3 2 3
North Penn: 002 020 x – 4 6 3
WP: Gorman 7IP 2H 3R 2ER 2BB 1SO – 98 pitches
LP: Edgington 6IP 6H 4R 2ER 1BB 7SO – 96 pitches
Hatboro-Horsham: Edgington 1-4, RBI; Katz 1-3, R; Passerini 0-2, R; Schultz 0-2, RBI, Thomas 0-2, RBI
North Penn: Nadeau 1-3, 2 RBI; Bealer 2-3, R; Marino 1-2, R; Schuster 1-3, RBI; O’Donnell 1-3, R