North Penn looks as if it has what it takes to make a serious run at its third state baseball championship in the last six seasons.
The Knights clinched their second consecutive Suburban One League Continental Conference crown Tuesday with a 13-3 rout of Souderton.
Senior third baseman Tyler Siddal, one of the squad’s offensive catalysts, went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run against the visiting Indians.
“Usually, I try to hit the ball up the middle or go gap to gap,” the leadoff man said. “I want to get on base early, get a look at the pitcher’s pickoff moves, and then relay what I notice to my teammates.”
North Penn, which is 14-2 overall and 11-0 in conference action, holds the top spot in the District 1 Class 6A power-point standings.
“We brought back six position starters from last year, so the veteran leadership has really helped us,” Knights coach Kevin Manero said.
Siddal is batting .436 with (24 for 55) with 13 runs, nine walks, seven RBIs, and four doubles. The 5-foot-11, 155-pounder has a .516 on-base percentage, a .509 slugging percentage, and a 1.025 OPS.
“He really drives the ball, he runs like a deer, he’s got quick feet, and he’s got a strong arm,” Manero said.
North Penn also brought back ace righthander Danny Kirwin, shortstop Zach Miles, rightfielder Joe Picozzi, centerfielder Atlee Hasson, leftfielder Ryan Bealer, and first baseman Billy Collins.
Miles (.452 batting average, 13 runs, 11 RBIs, two home runs), catcher and designated hitter Jake Drelick (.396), Collins (.395, 22 RBIs, 12 runs), and Hasson (.348, 14 runs, 13 RBIs) have also helped the Knights average 9.3 runs per game. Picozzi is a cleanup man who has five homers, two doubles, and a .635 slugging percentage.
The Knights’ pitching rotation is headed by seniors Kirwin and Mason Blankenburg, junior Joe Valenti, and sophomore Kolby Barrow.
The 6-2, 180-pound Kirwin, a righthander who is bound for Rider, is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. “His pace is awesome, he pounds the strike zone, and he doesn’t keep us out there for long,” Manero said.
Barrow has been a key contributor as a second or third starter. A JV player last year, the righthander is 5-0 with a 1.73 ERA and 34 K’s in 24 1/3 innings.
Siddal and Picozzi, who both honed their skills with the Towamencin Youth Association, plan to be walk-on players at West Chester and Penn State, respectively.
“What I like about both of them is that they picked those schools because, above all, they’re the best for them in terms of academics,” Manero said.
Siddal, an erstwhile basketball player who sometimes bats third in the order, plans to major in finance.
Of trying to make the cut at defending Division II titlist West Chester, Siddal said, “I’m confident in my abilities and I’m going to go there with a positive attitude.”