UPPER MORELAND >> As the bottom of the eighth inning began Saturday afternoon, Upper Moreland knew it had the right guy heading to the plate.
Randy Meehl had already put together a great afternoon by that point, but the Golden Bears figured their senior co-captain had a little more left in him. Turns out, they were right.
Meehl’s fourth hit of the day set the stage for co-captain Ryan Lowry’s walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth that lifted Upper Moreland to a 2-1 win over visiting Plymouth Whitemarsh.
“Our order had just turned over and everybody was really pumped for that inning,” Meehl said. “We knew we had something. It was just that feeling that we were going to win it.”
It was an excellent game on both sides. UM starter Brandon Kohn and PW hurler Jake Kuruc matched each other pitch-for-pitch, the teams’ defenses made some nice plays and after PW tied it up in the fourth, it felt like anyone’s game.
The difference on Saturday was Meehl. The speedster center fielder went 4-for-4 with a triple, scored both his team’s runs and made the defensive play of the game on a spectacular throw home to cut down the go-ahead run in the sixth.
BASEBALL FINAL: Upper Moreland 2, Plymouth Whitemarsh 1
Ryan Lowry with the walk-off single to score Meehl pic.twitter.com/85izbadrck
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) April 8, 2017
Plymouth Whitemarsh, a walk-off winner against Cheltenham earlier in the week, couldn’t seem to muster that same kind of clutch hit again on Saturday.
“Now our guys know what it feels like to walk off with a win and get walked-off on, hopefully they want the good feeling more than the bad feeling,” PW coach Chris Manero said. “We got guys on and got guys in position but we lacked the big hit.”
Lowry, UM’s catcher, provided more than just the winning hit. He framed the zone very well for Kohn and relieved Tommy Jacob, threw out two base stealers and picked off a man at third base for the third out of the fifth inning.
Meehl also had two steals in the game, each one helping set up one of his scores. After leading off the bottom of the first with a single and swipe, Meehl scored on Jon Searles’ RBI double. The Bears looked like they were going to get at least one more run, but PW catcher Kevin Reilly gunned down a base stealer to end the frame.
“I’m proud of the whole team for their effort,” Bears coach Dan Heiland said. “Brandon Kohn pitched incredible, he took the team as far as he could. We got out of some crucial points in the game with their guys in scoring position, we had a couple of double plays, the assist from the outfield. It was a great team effort.”
Drew Kleish reached base with two outs in the fourth for the Colonials, then came around to score on Brad Krenicky’s laser triple to deep right field, tying the game up. PW threatened each of the next three innings but each time, UM prevented a runner on third from scoring.
John Pecharo started the sixth with a double and pinch-runner Richie Werner moved to third on Reilly’s single with no outs. Lowry gunned down courtesy runner Matt Mitchell stealing second for the first out then Kleish lofted a long ball to center, where Meehl tracked it down and came up firing.
“It was in the air for a little bit, so I had time to line it up,” Meehl said. “Lowry put a great tag on and we were able to get the out.”
Werner tagged up and Manero sent him on the catch, but Meehl just made a tip-your-cap kind of play.
“Randy made a great throw,” Manero said. “We had maybe our fastest guy on third base, you do it 10 times and I’d send him 10 more times, but that was just one of many innings where we set ourselves up to do what we needed to do.”
Manero said aside from the outcome, it was a good showing for his club. The Colonials pitched very well, played clean defense and had six hits in a pitcher’s duel and if his team continues to do that, it will be in position to win a lot of games.
After Kohn hit the pitch-count limit with two out and men on the corners in the seventh, Jacob came in and struck out leadoff man Luca Amoroso for the third out in a big spot.
Meehl had tripled in the third inning but didn’t score and after that point, the Bears hadn’t been able to move a runner past first base through the rest of the regulation seven innings. Heiland had wanted Meehl to get up in the seventh, but was more than fine with the senior set up to start the first extra inning.
Jacob retired the side in order in the top half of the eighth, setting up Meehl to face Pecharo, who had entered in relief in the seventh. Both Kuruc and Pecharo pumped in plenty of strikes all game, so Meehl knew what he wanted to do.
“We’ve had a lot of gym time lately because the field’s been wet, and we do a lot of hitting in there,” Meehl said. “We were waiting for fastballs, waiting for our pitch and when we did get hits, it was because we were waiting for our pitch and I’d say that was the key to us winning today.”
Once Meehl singled, he stole second after a getting himself stuck in no-man’s land and making a break for the bag. A passed ball in the dirt moved him to third and put Lowry in position to end the game. The senior catcher did just that with a flare into left field that Meehl had no trouble scoring on.
Upper Moreland’s had a knack in recent years for winning tight games like Saturday’s.
“I think it’s our heart,” Meehl said. “We stick with teams and we don’t let anybody get ahead of us, even if they’re a bigger school. We come out and play our game and that’s what we’ve always done well.”
Upper Moreland 2, Plymouth Whitemarsh 1 (8)
PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 000 100 00 – 1 6 0
UPPER MORELAND 100 000 01 – 2 8 1
WP: Tommy Jacob. LP: John Pecharo. SO-BB: Jake Kuruc 4-2, Pecharo 1-0, Brandon Kohn 5-3, Jacob 3-0. 3B: Randy Meehl (UM), Brad Krenicky (PW). 2B: Pecharo (PW).
Multiple hits: PW – Kevin Reilly 2-4, Krenicky 2-3; UM – Meehl 4-4