HATFIELD TWP. — Tuesday night was a first for Greg Wiley.
The Upper Moreland left-hander has pitched in his share of big spots, so getting the start in the winner’s bracket finale of the Bux-Mont Connie Mack A tournament wasn’t the problem. The issue was going to be the state of Wiley’s legs, given that he had to rush to the game after soccer practice.
If he was tired, Wiley didn’t show it as he and Colin Williams combined for a one-hitter as Upper Moreland topped Deep Run 5-0 at School Road Park to book a spot in Friday’s title game.
“I was trying to stay focused, I had soccer practice right before this so my legs were a little tired,” Wiley said. “I didn’t want to let that be an excuse, so I just powered through it.”
The top-seeded Falcons have really enjoyed playing at School Road in the tournament. In their opener, Williams pitched a one-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts in six innings as UM topped Harleysville 10-0.
Whatever late-night mojo they have at the field was working again Tuesday, as Wiley allowed just one hit while striking out eight in his four innings of work. Williams, another lefty, took over in the fifth and struck out all nine hitters he faced, giving him 26 total K’s in his last nine innings of work.
It wasn’t as simple as showing up and rolling, as the hitters and pitchers on both sides had to adjust to the plate umpire’s strike zone.
“I had to feel out what his zone was and put it there,” Wiley said. “I just kept attacking the zone because I had faith in the defense behind me and know they always play a good game.”
Upper Moreland infielder Nick Harley got rung up looking by Deep Run starter Ryan DeHaven his first time up, but learned from it and drove in a run with a single in the third inning and a fifth inning sac fly.
“It was a little weird, but it was also pretty kind both ways,” Harley said. “It stayed consistent, so I was able to sit fastball and if they threw a curveball, adjust to it.”
While the final score doesn’t say it, DeHaven pitched very well in his three innings of work. He allowed a run in the first inning when Justin Richman singled in Connor English and it seemed like the game was posed to stay close until a costly error in the third frame.
After walking English and giving up a double to Williams with two out in the third, DeHaven got a ground ball from Richman. However, the Upper Moreland outfielder hustled out of the box and an errant throw sailed into foul ground, allowing English and Williams to score.
Richman then swiped second and third base before Harley’s grounder deep in the hole at shortstop gave UM a 4-0 advantage.
“We just come out and always try to play well, it doesn’t matter who we play or where,” Harley said. “We knew if we won tonight, we could save the two pitchers we used tonight and let them come back on Friday, which is pretty good for us.”
Wiley had exited the game by the time Harley’s sac fly provided the final margin, but he noted pitching up 4-0 was easier than 1-0.
“I could pitch more loosely in a way,” Wiley said. “At the same time, you have to keep your focus and not get too relaxed.”
The win gives Upper Moreland an automatic ticket to Friday’s final, meaning not only would the Falcons have to be beaten twice to not take home the Bux-Mont crown, but they get two days of rest beforehand.
Deep Run’s tournament isn’t over either, but the Thunderhawks will have to wait a day to find out their next opponent. Hatfield-Towamencin and Doylestown will contest an elimination game at School Road on Wednesday, with the victor facing Deep Run in a win-or-go-home contest Thursday at Hostelley Field.
AJ Neher had the lone hit for Deep Run, a leadoff pinch-hit single in the fourth, but the Thunderhawks were limited to just three total baserunners on the night. DeHaven punched out five batters in his three innings while Jackson Mott had three strikeouts in two innings on the hill.
Tuesday was a new experience for Wiley, but really, that goes for any team still playing now. Most years, the Connie Mack season ends with the state tournament in late July to early August but this summer sees the Bux-Mont going into almost mid-September.
“Without COVID, we would be done (Connie Mack) by now,” Wiley said. “I wasn’t really worried, I had faith if I didn’t have it, the defense would back me up. Now, we just have to win one more game instead of three.”
DEEP RUN 000 000 0 - 0 1 2
UPPER MORELAND 103 010 x – 5 4 0