UPPER MORELAND — Tom Longstreth wanted to go out the right way.
Win or lose, Tuesday night was Longstreth’s last game playing for the Morelanders in the Lower Montco Legion league, so he wanted to end it the best way possible. The Upper Moreland graduate felt like he never really captured that last game mentality in the spring, but he got a hold of it Tuesday.
Longstreth’s two-run double in the third inning held up as the game-winning hit behind a Connor O’Donnell shutout as the Morelanders topped Horsham 3-0 at Woodlawn Park.
“Coming into the game I just thought I had to give it my all,” Longstreth said. “During the school season, I wasn’t really sure because we didn’t know if we would get into the playoffs or not so I didn’t feel like I had the right mindset going into what ended up being our last game. Tonight, I knew what I wanted to do and accomplish and we did what we wanted to do.”
Record-wise, the Morelanders finish as the third best team in the LML. But when the league’s four-team playoff begins on Wednesday, the Morelanders won’t be a part of it. The program accumulated too many forfeited games in the regular season, making them ineligible for the postseason.
Morelanders coach Kevin Bray knows it’s a delicate balance, with guys wanting to spend time with their families away from the field, some holding part-time jobs and others playing for other summer baseball teams. What was frustrating for Bray and the team in general was that when they had their full lineup, they proved they could play with anyone in the LML.
“It puts us in a tough position, tonight we have five guys in the Little League state championship game playing with Upper Moreland Little League and I’m never going to tell these guys they can’t go to something like that or spend time with their families,” Bray said. “When we put the team together, I thought we had a decent club that could make a little noise and when the horses were here, we performed.”
Had the Morelanders been eligible, Tuesday’s game likely would have been a win-and-in contest between the two teams. Instead, Horsham was playing for its playoff seed and manager Bill DeBoer figured the loss would make the Macs the No. 4 seed on Wednesday.
DeBoer figured it’s been at least five years since Horsham last made the LML playoffs, struggling with numbers the past few seasons. The Macs also had a brutal finish to the regular season. Horsham had Monday off, but that was a needed respite after playing five games in three days over the weekend.
“I try to give these guys the Fourth of July weekend off so they’ll commit to me the rest of the season and we end up playing five games in three days,” DeBoer said. “The weather didn’t help us either during those three days. I just want them to get home and get a rest. They looked better today than they did Sunday, that day of rest in between sure helped a lot of them.”
Horsham’s long weekend had taken its toll and needing to get some pitching lined up for the double-elimination playoffs, Ben Schlosser helped the Macs with a strong complete-game outing. The right-hander gave up just two earned runs and struck out four batters.
“We didn’t have our full roster the last 8-10 days and it makes a big difference,” DeBoer said. “We need to score more runs there. Holding this team to three runs is a pretty good job, they hit the ball well and if they didn’t have those forfeits, they maybe knock us out of the playoffs today.”
The Morelanders don’t age out that many players, but they do lose a couple guys like Longstreth, Colin Bates and Jack Dombroski who have been a backbone of the program the past few seasons. Prior to Tuesday’s game, Bray said he stressed to the older guys to make “it count.”
“I’m confident in the guys with us and the younger group coming in,” Bray said. “We’re looking forward to it, the Morelanders are alive and well.”
Longstreth is heading Millersville at the end of the summer and said he’d like to try and walk on to the college’s team or play club baseball there. Sitting on a 2-0 count in the third inning on Tuesday, the outfielder said was looking fastball and got a good one to hit, smoking it deep to left field to score Dombroski and Ryan Gibbs.
During his time with the Morelanders and even prior, Longstreth said he always admired the guys in the program who worked hard and played every game like it was their last, which was something he hoped to bring in this year.
“I’d say take every moment it gives you,” Longstreth said. “Every strike, every ball, every play, just make the best of it and take it with you. It goes by faster than you think.
“You can’t do any more than that and it was a pleasure playing the game I love.”
Horsham will visit top-seeded Roslyn at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lower Moreland High School with Roslyn Park unavailable. The Macs did pick up a regular season win over the Blue Hawks and have things lined up so Anthony Liott will be able to get the start on the hill.
“I’ll do anything for them at this point,” DeBoer said. “They’re a great group of kids and they’ve gone out of their way, some of them, to be here at games and at batting practice before games which hasn’t always been the case.”