North Penn’s Jack Picozzi (2) celebrates as he comes home to score a run in the bottom of the fourth inning against West Chester Henderson during their District 1-6A second round game on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)
TOWAMENCIN >> North Penn baseball’s Trevor Lugara began Wednesday afternoon giving up a leadoff double to Conor McCartney.
But the sophomore left-hander did not let West Chester Henderson grab a quick lead, stranding McCartney at third base by ending the top of the first inning with a strikeout.
The Knights’ bats proceeded to make sure the wait for runs in the District 1-6A second-round matchup did not take much longer.
Ben Farley drove in a pair with his bases-loaded single, two more came home on James Mangine’s triple and North Penn finished the opening frame in possession of a 6-0 lead.
“It’s electric when Trevor comes off the mound with a strikeout I think it was and then the bats swinging right away,” North Penn first baseman Ben Farley said. “Justin (Egner) with that first-pitch single to the center. Just there’s nothing that fires you up more.”
Farley and Mangine both finished with three hits while Farley collected two more RBIs on another bases-loaded single as the Knights tacked on an additional three runs in the fourth.
Lugara, meanwhile, threw six scoreless innings as second-seeded North Penn shut out the visiting No. 15 Warriors 9-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.
“It was kind of a full-circle thing,” Knights coach Kevin Manero said. “Our first home game this year we went up 6-0 and then we couldn’t hang on (falling 8-7 to Souderton in eight innings April 11). And here we are at the end of the season, similar start but a much different finish.
“So we obviously believe that it’s important to take a lead, you don’t want to play from behind. But we came out very hungry and playing some good inspired baseball today.”
Mangine went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and scored twice while Farley was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored as North Penn (17-4) moves on to host No. 23 Quakertown – which upset No. 7 Pennsbury 10-2 – 4 p.m. Friday for a spot in the semifinals and one of District 1’s six PIAA tournament bids.
“Our hitting today was unbelievable,” Lugara said. “Everything came together today, really jumping out on ‘em early really, really helped us and the energy on the bench was great.”
Ethan Giangiulio went 2-for-3 for West Chester Henderson, which reached the second round by scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh to rally past No. 18 Council Rock North 4-3 Monday.
“It wasn’t meant to be today,” Warriors coach Luke McNichol said. “The other day it was.”
McCartney looked to keep the momentum from the comeback going when he opened Wednesday lacing a double to left center. But after going to third on a one-out groundout he stayed there when Lugara recorded his first strikeout.
Down 6-0 in the top of the fourth, the Warriors put two on after a Giangiulio one-out single and Pete Omiridis’ two-out base hit to left but the next batter grounded out back to Lugara.
Marcus Gustafson collected a one-out infield single in the top of the fifth only for North Penn to end the inning with a double play started by Lugara.
In the sixth, a Giangiulio two-out single and Eric Lintelman reaching on an error gave Henderson runners on the corners but Lugara collected a strikeout to keep the shutout intact.
“We just talk about follow every hit, error, follow it with an out,” Lugara said. “So if we’re able to do that, we should be getting out of the innings pretty easily.”
Henry Wetzel took over for Lugara in the seventh and put Henderson down in order to finish North Penn’s third shutout of the season – Lugara having thrown complete games in the previous two against Neshaminy and Truman.
Lugara allowed six hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five.
“My curveball came alive today,” Lugara said. “It’s been slow in past games, I haven’t been throwing it as much but then today after scouting report we knew we had to pitch backwards to ‘em the second time around so throwing the curveball was really big today.”
Henderson starting pitcher Cole Snyder took the loss, giving up seven runs – all earned – on six hits in three-plus innings. He walked two and struck out one.
“If you’re not locating your pitches well, number one and you don’t have more than one pitch getting over it’s a good day to be up to bat and not so much to be on the bump,” McNichol said. “He wasn’t his normal self but he battled through it.”
Egner began the bottom of the first by hitting Snyder’s first pitch into center for a single. Back-to-back one-out walks by Jack Picozzi and Chase Jones loaded the bases for Farley, who knocked in both Egner and Picozzi with his two-RBI single.
“He gave me two great curveballs the first at-bat but then I was just sitting on the fastball,” Farley said. “And that’s what I was just looking for, something over the plate just to put in play and maybe get one.”
Two batters later, Wetzel made it 3-0 with his two-out RBI single that scored Jones. Mangine followed by bringing in Farley and Wetzel with his two-RBI triple to left center.
A wild pitch allowed Mangine to come home for the Knights’ sixth run of the inning.
Mangine opened the bottom of the fourth with a single to right, took second on a passed ball then went to third on a Mario Sgro sacrifice bunt. Egner hit a grounder to the third baseman but Mangine slid in ahead of the throw home to put the Knights up 7-0.
“We were up 6-0, we were playing well but that seventh run, it was what we were missing earlier in the year,” Manero said. “We had managed to tack on that extra run and that kind of changed the feel of the game a little bit.
“So it’s great to see a guy like him as a senior stepping up when you have to. And we got a lot of young guys out there and he had a big day.”
A Picozzi two-out walk and Jones’ single to the left side of the infield gave Farley a second at-bat with the bases loaded and he came through again – putting a single into right to score Egner and Picozzi for a 9-0 lead.
“I was just hunting a fastball and I got it,” Farley said. “And I took a swing at it but it happened to drop in.”
District 1-6A Second Round
(2) North Penn 9, (15) West Chester Henderson 0
West Chester Henderson 000 000 0 – 0 6 2
North Penn 600 300 X – 9 9 1
WP: Trevor Lugara 6 IP 6 H 0 R 0 ER 5 SO 0 BB.
LP: Cole Snyder 3 IP 6 H 7 R 7 ER 2 BB 1 SO.
2B: WCH-Conor McCartney; 3B: NP-James Mangine.
West Chester Henderson: Ethan Giangiulio 2-3.
North Penn: Magine 3-3, 2 RBI, 2 R; Ben Fraley 3-4, 4 RBI, R; Justin Egner 2 R; Jack Picozzi 2 R.