TOWAMENCIN >> The busy schedule of a high school baseball team can be taxing, particularly on the pitching staff. A team needs a boost every now and then. One guy who can carry the load and give his teammates some rest.
Enter North Penn’s Matt Stevenson.
Stevenson fired a complete-game gem Thursday afternoon, while the offense contributed one big inning in a 6-1 victory over William Tennent.
“Matt Stevenson was at his best today,” North Penn head coach Kevin Manero said. “He just filled up the zone with good, low strikes, got ahead of hitters, did not walk a batter until the last inning. Real impressed with him today…that’s exactly what we need.”
The Millersville-bound starting pitcher struck out six and walked just one in his seven innings of work. Stevenson also needed just 90 pitches to complete the game.
“It really helped with a low strike zone,” Stevenson said. “I was able to get out in front and finish. If they make contact it’s gonna be a ground ball or foul it off…if it’s up anything can happen really.”
Tennent (6-7, 4-4 SOL Continental) was forced to swing early thanks to the strike zone Stevenson was enjoying. He had innings of nine, four, and twelve pitches in the game.
“He’s gonna throw strikes, so you have one of two options. You can either go up there and get yourself behind in the count or you can get up there and swing,” Tennent head coach Rick Penecala said. “I think you try and get up there and get a couple swings each at-bat… I have no problem with that… I thought we hit the ball hard but going back to the way (North Penn) plays, they just make the plays.”
The only time Stevenson allowed multiple hits in an inning was the third, when he also allowed his only run. The senior allowed just five hits in the game.
“No need to tell him anything if he’s doing everything right,” Manero said.
The North Penn offense had their pitcher’s back in the third, when it put up a four spot to give the Knights (12-2, 6-2) the lead for good.
Tennent also didn’t have the luxury North Penn possessed coming into the game, as the Panthers’ pitching staff was a bit more worn down.
“Coming into the game our pitching staff was a little bit tired and beat up so we used some kids we haven’t used much this year,” Penecala said. “We kind of got caught in the middle of a kid at 60 pitches who hasn’t thrown that much this year and another kid with not a lot of experience… We made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of it.”
North Penn batted around in its half of the third inning, collecting two hits, two walks and capitalizing on two Tennent errors. There wasn’t necessarily a “big” hit in the inning, but the Knights got RBIs from Billy Collins, Joe Picozzi, Atlee Hasson, and Rob Weiss in the frame.
Collins proved to be the offensive standout. The DH earned his moniker Thursday, finishing the game 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored.
“He’s been smoking the ball,” Manero said about Collins. “We actually have two guys who have been DHing — it’s been Billy Collins and Dan Drop… to have a couple of guys who can really stick it is really big for us in the middle of the order.”
Weiss also finished the game with multiple hits, going 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt out of the nine hole.
North Penn 6, William Tennent 1
William Tennent 001 000 0 — 1 5 2
North Penn 014 001 x — 6 7 1
WP: Matt Stevenson 7 IP 5 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 6 SO — 90 pitches.
LP: Jason Hughes 2.1 IP 3 H 5 R 2 ER 3 BB 1 SO — 65 pitches.
3B: NP- Collins. SB: WT-Shannon (2); NP-Siddal, Stouffer.
William Tennent: Brown 1-3, R; Shannon 1-3, RBI.
North Penn: Collins 2-4, 2 RBI, 2 R; Weiss 2-2, RBI; Picozzi 0-4, 2 RBI, R; Miles 1-3, BB, R; Bealer 1-4, R.