LOWER GWYNEDD >> It was a tough first inning for Quinn Rovner Friday afternoon.
Visiting Upper Moreland quickly jumped on the Wissahickon right-hander in the Suburban One League American Conference contest, collecting four hits and scoring three runs in the top of the opening frame.
“Leaving my fastball up, getting in my own head,” said Rovner of the early struggles. “(Alex) Tappen actually told me ‘Get out of your own head, everything’s going to be good. You are the one to pitch this game.’”
But as fast at the Golden Bears grabbed a 3-0 lead, the Trojans’ bats rapidly responded to pick up their sophomore pitcher. Wissahickon plated four runs in the bottom of the first and Rovner proceeded to settled in — giving up just one hit over the final six innings as the Trojans claimed a 5-3 victory on Senior Day.
“This group, we’re getting better and better as the year goes on,” Wissahickon coach John Bernhard said. “We’re playing really good baseball right now. They brought them in and I’ll tell you what man, they fire within these guys, man, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen and they have really good at-bats, they pick each other up and that was that.”
Matt Shilling was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Trey France drove in two with his double in the first as the Trojans (11-8, 8-5 conference) kept up their late-season momentum, having now won two straight and eight of their past 10.
“It was definitely big to get a win today,” Bernhard said. “Upper Moreland’s high up in our power rankings for 5A and to come out and beat those guys is huge, it’s definitely going to give us a little bit of a burst. And basically the plan was today honestly was not to use Logan (Willans), I didn’t want to use Logan if I didn’t have to.
“And frickin’ Quinn, man, I can’t say enough about his performance, man he steps up and throws six shutout innings to end the game and that’s that.”
Rovner allowed only two base runners over the last sixth innings. Nick Pagano led off the top of the second by reaching on an error then Rovner retired the next 16 Golden Bears batters before a Ryan Gibbs one-out single in the seventh.
“I just told the guys it was looking good. From the jump, we got out three runs after two outs and we got three out of it. Give credit to them, they came right back and answered all of them,” Upper Moreland coach Dan Heiland said. “And I just thought it was going to be a high-scoring (game) with a lot of hits and unfortunately it wasn’t that but our guys were hitting the ball hard, they just were right to their guys and their guys were making the plays.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) May 12, 2017
Rovner sealed the win on the next at-bat after Gibbs’ single, starting a 1-6-3 double play as Wissahickon earned a regular-season sweep of Upper Moreland — winning their first matchup 5-1 on the road April 24. Rovner finished his complete-game effort with one walk and pair of strikeouts.
“After that first inning, kind of I had to keep my composure,” Rovner said. “Had to listen to my teammates, get out of my own head and things turned out the way they should.”
The lack of production after the first inning kept Upper Moreland (11-5, 8-4) from finishing the week 3-0 after the Bears came into Friday on a two-game win streak after beating Springfield-Montco Monday and Quakertown Wednesday.
“We came out, we kind of took the momentum from the jump. For them to answer the way they did, they definitely jumped on the momentum train there,” Heiland said. “But after that point it was even keel the whole rest of the way. Just a couple mistakes in the field and it let to one or two extra runs and that was it.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction. Our bats are coming alive. I like where we’re at right now and a positive 2-1 week going into next week, hopefully get two more and head into playoffs.
Upper Moreland starting pitcher Tommy Jacob took the loss, giving up four runs — three earned — on eight hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out two.
Both teams are looking to secure spots in the District 1-5A tournament heading into the last week before the postseason. Upper Moreland was 10th in the latest power rankings while Wissahickon was 13th. The top 16 teams make the playoff field.
The Golden Bears have two regular-season games left — both SOL American contest. Upper Moreland hosts Cheltenham 7 p.m. Monday at Masons Mill Park then is home against Upper Dublin 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. Wissahickon had a road conference matchup with Springfield-Montco 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve woken up, we’ve started to get on a roll now,” Shilling said. “We just hope to continue it into the playoffs.”
Brandon Kohn kept the Golden Bears’ half of the first inning going with a two-out walk. Kohn went to third on a Kevin Walder single and Trojan error then scored Friday’s first run on Dawson Ruggles’ RBI base hit.
Walder came home when Jacob dropped a single into shallow right center. Ruggles made it 3-0 by stealing home after Rovner’s attempted to pick off Jacob at first base.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) May 12, 2017
Mike Schoenleber — who went 2-for-4 on the day — started the bottom of the first with a single while an error on Tappen fielder’s choice put two runners on with no outs. Shilling cut the margin to 3-1 with his RBI single. France then tied the game 3-3 by belting a two-RBI double to center.
“We try to jump on them in the first inning and just like they did to us,” Shilling said. “We were all locked in, just went from there.”
Steven Loden put the Trojans up for good by plating France with his double to right field.
Wissahickon added an insurance run in the fifth. After Loden and Andrew Seitz drew back-to-back one-out walks, Upper Moreland tried to turn a double play on a Mike Steitz grounder to the left side of the infield. The Golden Bears forced out Seitz’s courtesy runner — Antonio Bova — at second, but an error on the throw to first allowed Loden to score for a 5-3 lead.
Wissahickon 5, Upper Moreland 3
Upper Moreland 300 000 0 — 3 5 3
Wissahickon 400 010 x — 5 8 2
WP: Quinn Rovner 7 IP 5 H 3 R 3 ER 1 BB 2 SO.
LP: Tommy Jacob 4 IP 8 H 4 R 3 ER 2 BB 2 SO 1 HB.
2B: W-Trey France, Steven Loden, Mike Schoenleber, Andrew Seitz.
Upper Moreland: Dawson Ruggles RBI, R.
Wissahickon: France 2 RBI; Schoenleber 2-4, R; Matt Shilling 3-4, RBI, R.
Top Photo: Wissahickon’s Steven Loden holds second base for the force out of Upper Moreland’s Randy Meehl during their game on Friday, May 12, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)