NORTH PENN 6, PENNIRDGE 4
North Penn's Chris Kersey says he did not view his mid-season switch from shortstop, a marquee position and his spot in last year's run to the PIAA Class AAAA state championship, to third base as a demotion.
"Coach [Kevin] Manero wanted to try something different," he said. "He moved Jared Melone over from third. I think it's worked out well for both us. We're both able to capitalize on our strengths."
Tuesday afternoon, with the Suburban One League Continental Conference title on the line at 2nd Street Park in Perkasie, Kersey contributed three hits to the visiting Knights' 6-4 triumph over Pennridge.
"He's a first-rate kid, will do anything to help the team," Manero said. "Defensively, Chris is a little better coming in on the ball. Jared Melone has tremendous hands and a strong arm."
North Penn secured the Continental Conference crown for the first time since it shared top honors with Pennridge in 2010.
"We wanted to treat this as just another game, but, obviously, it was pretty important," said Kersey, who is ranked No. 25 in a senior class of more than 1,000 and will study business and engineering at Lehigh.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Kersey, a leadoff man since early in the season, went 3 for 5 with a run. He is batting .387 (24 for 62) with 19 runs, 13 RBIs, and 11 walks for the year.
North Penn's Alex Peterson opened the fourth with a bloop single to left field and, in breaking a 4-4 tie, scored on a two-base throwing error following Melone's single past second. The visitors added an insurance run in the seventh on Kris Akins' fielder's choice grounder.
Knights starter Collin Healey gave up four runs (three earned) on 49 pitches in the first two innings. "He had a little trouble with his command, wasn't getting his breaking ball over like he had been," Manero said.
Junior righthander James Witner took over with one out in the fourth and twirled no-hit ball, with four strikeouts, from there. "He did a good job of pounding the zone and making them hit the ball," Kersey said.
North Penn (12-6 overall, 10-4 conference) scored twice in its first at-bat, with Bobby Scott driving in Kersey (single) with a single to left and Brandon Heggan plating Peterson (walk) on a sacrifice fly to right.
The Rams (11-5, 9-5) notched all six of their hits in the first three frames. In the seventh, after beginning with two whiffs, Witner ended things by inducing a 4-3 groundout.
North Penn 211 100 1-6 12 1
Pennridge 310 000 0-4 6 1
WP: James Witner. LP: Eric Wesolowski. 2B: NP-Brandon Heggan; P-Brad Misialek.