HATFIELD TWP. — Colin Williams had a near-perfect start to September.
The left-handed hurler for Upper Moreland started his day by setting up his future at the college level and finished it by going nearly untouchable in the opening round of the Bux-Mont Connie Mack A playoffs. Showcasing the arsenal that made him a Division I prospect as an underclassmen, Williams buzzed through Harleysville hitters and helped himself in the field.
Behind a 17-strikeout, one-hit gem from Williams, top-seed Upper Moreland handled No. 8 Harleysville 10-0 in six innings Tuesday night at School Road Park.
“I felt good,” Williams said. “My arm felt good, I kept throwing strikes, my team gave me plenty of run support, so just a good game all-around.”
Williams faced just one over the minimum 18 batters on Tuesday night and only recorded one out that wasn’t through a strikeout. That out, an attempt to bunt for a hit by Calvin Radcliffe in the second, didn’t faze Williams either as the lefty came off the mound to make the throw.
After striking out the side in order to start the game, a feat he would repeat three other times, Williams gave himself all the run support he would need in the bottom of the first. After shortstop Nick Lombardo worked a walk, stole second and took third on a fly out, Williams drove him home on an RBI groundout.
Upper Moreland, which went 17-1 in the regular season, added two more in the frame aided by two Harleysville errors and an RBI single from Nick Harley.
“We got it going and we’re rolling right now,” Lombardo, a junior at Upper Dublin, said. “Hopefully we can keep it going for four straight games and win this thing.”
Lombardo scored three runs on Tuesday, reaching base through a walk, bunt single and triple as part of a Falcons offense that just took what was available. No Upper Moreland hitter tried to do too much; they ran the bases well and took advantage of Harleysville miscues in the field.
While their pitcher was dealing, the Falcons didn’t want to make him feel like he had to do it all himself. Lombardo felt it was important to back up Williams and also not let up even after building a 6-0 lead two innings into the game.
“Everyone trusts the person behind them to pick them up if they get out or if they get on, to score them,” Lombardo said. “We have a lot of good chemistry on this team.”
Of course, one run would have been plenty for Williams. The southpaw started with a heavy diet of fastballs after he rang up nine of the 10 Hornets hitters the first time through the lineup, he started to mix in plenty of sliders.
Williams credited catcher Eric DaMico for calling the game well and keeping the Harleysville batters off-balance their second time up.
“I let my catcher call it, I throw it and try to hit my spots as best I can,” Williams said.
Tuesday had been a win for Williams before he even got to the field. Earlier in the day, he committed to play college baseball at Radford, selecting the Big South program from a list that included UConn, Seton Hall and St. John’s among others.
For the rising junior at Upper Moreland, it was a connection with the Radford staff that sealed the deal.
“I got it out of the way so now I get to work harder and try to be the best player I can before heading to college,” Williams said. “The coaching staff and (head coach Karl Kuhn), they have such a great history, he’s had over 60 players drafted. The relationship we built from talking time and time again helped me make my decision.”
Jude Kane, who has been one of Harleysville’s best hitters during the latter half of the season, produced his team’s only hit off Williams when he ripped a single to right field in the fifth inning. While Tuesday didn’t go their way, the Hornets aren’t out of the tournament yet and will play a win-or-go home contest Wednesday evening.
After plating three in the first, Upper Moreland added three more runs in the second on RBI singles by Connor English and Greg Wiley before Williams scored on a wild pitch. The top seed added solo runs in the third and fourth innings before a Williams sac fly and Jacob Hemschall walk with the bags loaded ended the game in the sixth.
Williams, who ended his outing like he started by striking out the side 1-2-3 in the sixth, said Tuesday was his best outing of the summer and while his September got off to a fantastic start, the rest of his team is hoping it set a tone for the rest of the Bux-Mont playoffs.
“I definitely get more hyped going out there in the playoffs,” Williams said. “It has my adrenaline pumping, I feel like I throw harder. I love the playoffs.
“Our chemistry has gotten better with each game and hopefully we get to keep it going.”
Upper Moreland 10, Harleysville 0
HARLEYSVILLE 000 000 – 0 1 3
UPPER MORELAND 331 102 – 10 10 0
3B: UM – Nick Lombardo