UPPER MORELAND >> Normally, if you are going to score six runs in a game, you have to hit the ball. However, that was not necessarily the case for Upper Moreland Friday afternoon as it took on Pennridge.
The Golden Bears drew five walks in the opening inning, and three more in the second to jump out to an early lead and never look back as they beat the Rams 6-0 for a Suburban One League non-conference victory.
“It was good to see those guys taking a lot of pitches and it helped us early on,” said Upper Moreland head coach Dan Heiland. “It’s not so much anything I said to them, these guys just understand the game really well. They just understand that the more pitches they see the better chance they’ll have and that led to all those walks.”
After a lead off pop-up to start the bottom of the first, the Golden Bears (7-2, 4-1 SOL American) drew four straight walks, with a run coming home on a wild pitch. Then, a bloop single to right and a passed ball later and the Bears found themselves up 3-0 despite having just one base-knock.
That was kind of the story of Pennridge starter Oliver Jervis’ afternoon. The big right-hander looked good when he could hit his spots, but his location just was not there.
Following the three-run inning he walked the opening batter in the second, and that was the last one he faced as his coach came out to the mound to call in a reliever.
“We didn’t throw a lot of strikes in that first inning and that’s when they did a lot of their damage,” said Pennridge head coach Tom Nuneviller. “Olie (Jervis) hasn’t gotten a ton of time to start and we wanted to get him some innings and he was just a little off. He was rushing himself a little out there and it was hurting his release point which led to the command issues”
Brendan Knouse came on in the second to relieve Jervis, and his command struggled a bit as well. Two walks from Knouse and a pair of errors behind him and just like that Upper Moreland had a 6-0 lead heading into the third while registering just one hit.
Those six runs would be all the Bears would need.
While Pennridge (5-5, 3-1 SOL Continental) was struggling to find pitchers that could hit their spots, Upper Moreland was relying on Nick Pagano and he was having himself quite an afternoon.
Pagano, who relies on location more than he does movement or velocity, was fantastic. He went five innings, gave up no runs, walked three and struck out six on 73 pitches and was effective pitching to contact when he got in tough spots.
It isn’t often that a pitcher relies so heavily on his defense at this level, but with the group he has in the field behind him, he knows he just needs to locate and let them do their thing.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and get some outs,” said Pagano. “I like to pitch to contact. I don’t throw real hard but I’ve been playing with these kids on this team for as long as I can remember and I trust them. I know if I can get a hitter a little off balance and a ball rolling out to them they’re going to make the play.”
Upper Moreland finished the afternoon with just four total hits, but the damage was already done. After Pagano had his way with the Rams’ lineup a couple times through, reliever Shane Barras came on to finish off the shutout and ensure the win for the Golden Bears.
Upper Moreland 6, Pennridge 0
Pennridge 000 000 0 — 0 5 3
Upper Moreland 330 000 x — 6 4 0
WP: Nick Pagano 5 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 3 BB 6 SO.
LP: Oliver Jervis 1 IP 1 H 4 R 3 ER 6 BB 1 SO.
2B: UM-Brandon Kohn, Jon Searles; P-Brett Henofer.
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