UPPER GWYNEDD — Upper Moreland wasn’t interested in having a long evening at Hostelley Field.
Needing just one win over Deep Run to clinch the Bux-Mont Connie Mack A tournament title on Saturday, the Falcons had no desire to get forced into a second, winner-take-all game. So despite playing for the second time in five days, UM wasn’t going to change its approach.
Thanks to a big day at the plate by Josh Huddy and a strong outing on the mound from Greg Wiley, Upper Moreland topped Deep Run 4-0 to take home the title.
“I tried to throw more off-speed stuff just to get them off guard, but that was about it,” Wiley, who pitched against the Thunderhawks on Tuesday, said. “I noticed they were sitting fastball, so I had to throw off-speed, even early in the count to stay ahead.”
Wiley, who threw four innings on Tuesday, and Colin Williams had combined to one-hit Deep Run earlier in the week while striking out 17 batters, so the Thunderhawks came in with a new mindset at the plate.
The senior at Upper Moreland still recorded eight strikeouts in his six innings on the bump Saturday afternoon, but didn’t get his first punch-out until the top of the third inning. Deep Run shortstop Joey Calabretti belted a two-out double off Wiley in the first inning and said he and his teammates were trying something different at the plate.
“Normally we have a rule where we take the first pitch and wait until we get a strike but tonight it was off because we wanted to come out swinging,” Calabretti said.
Deep Run totaled three hits for the game, but had their best shot of scoring a run cut down at home on a stellar defensive play by Upper Moreland. Calabretti chalked it up to a matter of Upper Moreland’s pitching being in top form all tournament.
“The higher velocity was a challenge, we haven’t seen a lot of that with many teams, they’re one of the only teams with pitchers in the mid to upper-80s,” Calabretti said. “Plus, none of their pitches are usually flat, they get a lot of movement on the ball.”
The Falcons didn’t need long to get on the board thanks to Huddy, who broke a playoff slump in a big way. Nick Harley worked a one-out work before Adam Christopher singled and both runners moved up on a wild pitch to give Huddy a prime chance to cash in.
UM’s left fielder did just that, taking a 2-0 pitch to right field for a two-run double.
“I was just feeling it, I didn’t have a single hit in the playoffs coming into this game so I told myself I had to step it up,” Huddy, a junior at Council Rock North, said. “I’m sitting there thinking ‘this is a big spot and if I get the hit here, we’re probably going up two and in good position to win this game.’”
Huddy not only delivered there, but in the fourth inning when his single drove in Justin Richman for the final scoring margin. In between, the outfielder recorded a third hit, not only giving him a 3-for-3 afternoon but accomplishing the feat with each hit coming off a different Deep Run pitcher.
“Colin and Greg pitched gems all throughout the playoffs, Greg threw so well today, I’m almost speechless,” Huddy said. “I’m thinking a max of two runs is all we’d have to score, so once we got to four, I knew this game was done.”
Wiley said once he got the lead, his job got easier and he could mix in more fastballs to continue mixing up the Deep Run batters. However, that didn’t mean he got to cruise to the end and his teammates came up with a crucial play in the fifth inning.
Ryan DeHaven led off the top of the inning with a single and stolen base before a fielder’s choice didn’t result in an out and him at third base. A one-out single by AJ Neher found its way through the infield into right field, sending DeHaven home and Upper Moreland’s Jacob Hemschel coming up firing.
“It was a good throw from Jacob in right, I came out to get it, came back down, saw him and got the tag on his foot,” Upper Moreland catcher Eric DaMico said. “We had Colin at first, but Jacob threw right through him like he was supposed to. Colin could have cut it off, but I called him off and it came right to me.”
DaMico handled Hemschel’s throw off a bounce and fluidly finished the tag at home to keep Deep Run off the board and his pitcher still up two runs.
“That changed the momentum of the game,” Wiley said. “It was huge, because after that, we had everything rolling for us.”
“After seeing them last week, we knew what their hitters were capable of and we knew how to face each hitter,” DaMico, who attends Central Bucks South, said. “We were ready to go, we had a plan, settled on it and executed. When catching’s easy, it’s a lot of fun, so having these lefties with good velocity and good curves throughout the game, it’s fun.”
Despite finishing as the league’s runner-up, Calabretti felt his team performed well during the season and in general, was happy there was even a season at all. Without a spring school season, no American Legion and limited travel ball opportunities this summer, the Connie Mack schedule provided some valuable live action.
“I feel like we did really well this season, especially no knowing if we were going to play at all,” Calabretti said. “We’re family, we all come together at the end of the day. This year, we didn’t get to play much baseball, so this helps whether you only play school ball or play outside of school as well.”
Nick Lombardo had the other RBI for Upper Moreland, driving in Karan Acharya with a fifth-inning triple. Williams pitched the seventh inning for the Falcons to close the win.
Even with the Connie Mack state tournament cancelled this year, Upper Moreland still walks away as league champion with a 22-1 overall record this summer. For a season that looked in doubt just four months ago, it’s not a bad haul.
“We had faith in each other,” Huddy said. “It would have been really upsetting for all of us if we didn’t get to play at all this season. Our mindset getting ready for the season was ‘we’re winning states,’ so when they said there was no states, we changed it to ‘we have to go undefeated,’ and after we lost, it was ‘win the league tournament.’ It just set the tone for the entire season.”
UPPER MORELAND 4, DEEP RUN 0
DEEP RUN 000 000 0 – 0 3 2
UPPER MORELAND 020 011 x – 4 7 0
3B: UM – Nick Lombardo. 2B: UM – Josh Huddy; DR – Joey Calabretti.