**Note: This article originally published in The Reporter and on PaPrepLive.com**
TOWAMENCIN >> Fresh off an 11-inning loss to Central Bucks West Wednesday, the North Penn baseball team did not necessarily have a “must-win” game against Pennridge Thursday. But it certainly had a “better-win” game if the Knights wanted to stay in the Suburban One League Continental Conference race.
“I think it was a very important day,” North Penn head coach Kevin Manero said. “The league is really tough. So if you start stacking losses together it’s really hard to get out of that,”
North Penn responded well the day after a loss, using a four-run third inning and a strong pitching performance from Jared Gorman to pick up a 7-3 win over Pennridge Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a team where we have a lot of new starters and you’re not sure how they’ll responded to a tough loss like (Wednesday’s),” Manero said. “They can come in with a hangover after something like that and then you compound your problems. Instead, they came out focused and ready to play and they just put a great effort today all around.”
Gorman went the distance for North Penn (6-3, 3-2 SOL Continental), not allowing an earned run in his seven innings of work. The senior allowed just five Pennridge hits in the game.
“I just went out there and tried to throw strikes,” the starter said. “Let the fielders make plays and mix the pitches up and get outs.”
Gorman only had three strikeouts in the game, but he also did not walk any batters to allow Pennridge any free momentum.
“Gorman went out and he never let the game get out of his hands,” Manero said. “(Pennridge) had the one inning where they scored a couple of runs but he minimized that…he was in command today.”
Pennridge (5-3, 3-2) scored two runs — one on a Luke Nuneviller double and another on a Mitch McLeod single — in the top of the fifth to make the score 5-2, but Gorman pitched a scoreless sixth. North Penn picked up two insurance runs in its half of the sixth to secure the victory.
“I tell the guys all the time — there’s pitching, hitting, defense, and base running,” Manero said. “If I have to sacrifice one thing on any given day it’s going to be hitting, because if we get good pitching and good defense we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win it at some point. Today I think we put a little bit of everything together.”
A bulk of the hitting came in the third inning, when the Knights batted around to score four runs on six hits. North Penn rattled off five hits in a row — including an RBI single by Jake Schuster, an RBI double by Greg Kerr, an RBI triple by Kadar Namey, and an RBI squeeze bunt by Zack Miles — to put up the four-spot.
“I think in high school box scores, if you look, there’s usually one inning where a team scores more runs in one inning than the other team scores in the whole game,” Manero said. “You want to try and have that big inning in your favor. You string a couple of good hits together and take advantage of some things and you get that big inning.”
North Penn did a nice job taking advantage of what was given to them, but Pennridge also gave them plenty of opportunities in the game.
“We didn’t play very good baseball today. We had some very bad baseball plays and (North Penn) took advantage,” Pennridge head coach Tom Nuneviller said. “…we battled back, but it was not a pretty day for Pennridge baseball.”
The Rams had three base runners in the seventh, but were unable to get Monmouth-commit Danny Long to the plate when Gorman struck out McLeod to end the game.
Schuster finished the game with two RBIs for North Penn, scoring Nate O’Donnell twice with a pair of singles.
“We knew (the Pennridge pitchers) had good breaking pitches so we just wanted to attack early and be aggressive on those pitches,” Schuster said.
The five consecutive North Penn hits in the fourth inning came on just eight pitches.
Alex Peterson drove in the first insurance run in the sixth inning and later scored the second on a wild pitch.
“The early runs were big, but I thought the two runs we tacked on at the end were much bigger,” Manero said. “They had one of the best hitters in the league (Long) in the on-deck circle there…Adding those extra couple runs is very big because every team in the league has a couple good bats in the lineup and you can certainly never take a lead for granted.”
NORTH PENN 7, PENNRIDGE 3
Pennridge — 000 020 1 — 3 5 1
North Penn — 104 002 x — 7 11 2
WP: Gorman — 7 IP 5H 3R 0ER 0BB 3K 1HBP — 84 pitches
LP: Kacergis — 2.1 IP 7H 5R 5ER 2BB 0K
2B: PR-Nuneviller, Robinson; NP-Kerr
SB: NP-O’Donnell, Peterson
Pennridge: Nuneviller 1-3, RBI, R; Robinson 2-3, R; McLeod 1-4, RBI; Horne 0-3, R
North Penn: Schuster 2-3, 2 RBI, R, BB; O’Donnell 1-2, 2 R, BB; Peterson 2-3, RBI, R, BB; Namey 2-4, RBI, R; Kerr 1-2, RBI, R, 2 BB