Perkiomen's Naquan Holden creates a cloud of dust as he beats the throw to the plate during play in last Thursday's home game against Renaissance Academy. The Panthers won 16-0.
All the best attributes of the Perkiomen baseball team were on display in a 12-0 romp over Lower Moreland on Tuesday afternoon. Efficient pitching, stellar defense, timely hitting, and outstanding baserunning made short work of the visitors.
Freshman Levi Stoudt made his third start of the season on the mound and set the right tone for the Panthers (3-0, 10-5), mowing down Lower Moreland in order, including two strikeouts.
“We’ve struggled in the first inning. We had a quick one and that set the tone,” said Perkiomen’s veteran head coach Ken Baker.
Baker has seen his squad fall behind early in several games this year and has been preaching the importance of his pitchers throwing strikes from the outset and keeping the defense in the game mentally.
“When we’re throwing strikes, we can play defense pretty well. Levi’s been throwing strikes, and we make good defensive plays behind him.”
A case in point was the third inning. Stoudt retired the first seven batters he faced, but ran into trouble when the Lions (5-7) loaded the bases on two hits and a walk. Stoudt induced a groundball to slick-fielding shortstop Joey Pena who started a 6-4-3 double play.
“He’s smooth. He’s got great hands. He solidifies the infield,” said Baker of his junior shortstop from Brooklyn who is the unquestioned leader in a young infield.
In the next inning, Pena started a spectacular twin killing by ranging into the hole for a hard-hit ball by Jack Titus and firing a perfect strike to Josh Cruz, an eighth grader, who completed the double play.
By that time Stoudt had much more run support than he would need.
Pena started the first with a four-pitch walk, stole second and went to third when ball four to the next hitter, Juanki Sierra (2 for 2, 3 RBI’s), was in the dirt.
On the first pitch to the next hitter, Sierra stole second and Pena trotted home when catcher Titus’ throw bounced into center.
Naquan Holden drove in Sierra with a line drive single to center and scored himself when leftfielder Mike Brant dropped Cruz’s routine fly to left after centerfielder Sandberg inexplicably cut in front of him.
Stoudt made the visitors pay further with an RBI single and it was 4-0 after one.
Jose Marce and Pena started another rally with one out walks in the second. Sierra greeted reliever Max Sandburg with a run-scoring single. Angel Lopez doubled inside the third base bag, plating two more runs and it was 7-0 after two.
After having walked his first two times, Pena was looking for a pitch to hit and the switch hitter jumped on the first pitch he saw in the third for an RBI single.
“I was ready for a strike to come, and I saw it was a fastball,” Pena explained.
Sierra followed with a two-run single and the Panthers had a 10-0 advantage.
For good measure Perkiomen added two more in the fourth on a passed ball and a single by Stoudt.
Lower Moreland went down quietly in the fifth and Stoudt had an abbreviated complete game three-hitter thanks to the 10-run rule. He walked two and struck out five.
“I felt I threw good. My defense really played good,” Stoudt said after the game.
The Panthers ended the day with nine hits, five walks, and six stolen bases.
However, it was the pitching and defense that left Perkiomen feeling confident with about three weeks to go until the postseason.
“Right now I think we’re getting better,” said Pena. “Defensively I feel like we’re playing more as a team, more into it, and getting more excitement and energy.”