|The North Penn Knights baseball team celebrates after its victory over Coatesville in their PIAA District Class AAAA State quarterfinal contest at Spring-Ford High School on Thursday. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)|
By MIKE CABREY
Here are a couple thoughts from North Penn’s 11-1 six-inning victory over Coatesville in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
Ten batters. Three walks. Two sacrifice flies. One hit by pitch. One fielder's choice. One error. One fly out. One single. Five runs.
That's the basic rundown of North Penn's bottom of the third inning, when the Knights seemed to find any way they could to reach base and score runs, turning on its head a game that was scoreless for the opening 2 1/2 innings.
"We like to play a lot of small ball," sophomore first baseman Jared Melone said. "And then we put the ball in play when we had to."
Coatesville, the District One champ, had no response for NP's five-run outburst. The Knights, meanwhile, tacked on another four in the fourth - collecting five hits while almost batting around again.
Bobby Scott finally put the game away as his two-RBI double in the sixth enacted the 10-run mercy rule.
The win sets up a semifinal with SOL Continental rival Pennridge 3:30 p.m. Monday at Spring-Ford. It will be the fourth meeting between the teams this season, with Pennridge winning the previous three.
It's been four years since North Penn has been this far in states, with the 2009 side beating North Allegheny in the semis before besting Parkland for the program's first PIAA title.
"Four years seems like a long time ago, cause a lot's happened since then," North Penn coach Kevin Manero said. "But you always have to be very thankful and really appreciate how hard it is to get here, because it's tough to get this far. In single-elimination postseason baseball, a lot of things have to go right.
"So we are fortunate to have an opportunity to keep playing. And hopeful we take advantage of that opportunity."
Manero was an assistant on Bob McCreary for those '09 Knights, giving this run a completely new feel.
"It's totally different. When you're an assistant coach, I can say 'Oh, he's got it, he's got it,' he said. "As a head coach, yeah, there's a lot more pressure, there's a lot more going on. But coaching under Bob McCreary for nine years, that really made me a baseball person.
"If you have to coach with somebody for a long time, he's the guy you want to coach with, because you learn a lot about the game."
_____Dylan Borawski continued to solid work by the North Penn pitching staff in the postseason.
Borawski gave up just one unearned run in the fifth against the Red Raiders, and allowed only three singles while striking out one and walking one in six innings of work.
Through seven playoff games (five District One and two PIAA), NP pitchers have given up 15 runs, an average or 2.1 per game. No opponent has put up more than four runs in a game, with Brian Maher tossing a pair of complete-game shutouts - first against Strath Haven in the district quarters, then in the state first round against Parkland.
"Our pitching staff is phenomenal right now," Scott said. "We're just going after hitters one after each other."