PLYMOUTH >> The Hatboro-Horsham baseball coaches and players met before the 2017 season started and set two main goals — win a league championship and make the state playoffs.
The Hatters won the Suburban One League American Conference last month with a win over Cheltenham.
The second goal wasn’t realized until the final batter of their District 1 Class-6A fifth place game against Spring-Ford.
Trailing by one with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Colin Kennedy hit a groundball that the second baseman couldn’t handle. Shane Carpenter walked in from third and Eddie Schultz raced home from second to lift the No. 2 seeded Hatters over No. 3 Spring-Ford Thursday at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth to clinch a spot in the state tournament.
Hatters win it, 3-2! pic.twitter.com/uLOpQGBZ1J
— Ed Morlock (@emor09) June 1, 2017
“It’s something special,” Kennedy said. “We haven’t been to states since 2012. To say that me and all my brothers over there are going to states — the class of 2017 and the team of 2017 — it’s just something that I’m never going to forget, I’m never going to let go. It’s really something special.”
Ryan Long worked a 3-2 walk to start the bottom of the seventh and Carpenter was called on to pinch run. Schultz followed and fell behind 0-2 after failing to bunt twice. He fouled off three pitches en route to a walk of his own. Shaun Thomas was next and got hit by a pitch when he was trying to bunt to load the bases for Kennedy’s game-winning grounder.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play like I did,” Kennedy said. “We practice that situation all the time in practice and that’s one of our main situations — bases loaded and infield in. I was ready for it. I was excited. Just wanted to do what I did — put the ball in play. Lately I’ve been hitting a lot of groundballs to second base. Groundball to second base worked there.”
“It’s a testament to these kids and their never-say-die attitude,” Hatters coach Pete Moore said of his team’s ability to win close games. “We might not be the best overall hitting team, but we do real well in situations and they execute when they have to.”
Hatboro-Horsham needed to rally after Spring-Ford took the lead in the top of the sixth inning.
Brad Clemens and Jake Kelchner singled and were bunted to second by Sean McHugh when the Rams trailed, 1-0. Connor Larkin — who threw a no-hitter and had the game-winning RBI for the Rams Wednesday — followed with a two-run single to put his side ahead, 2-1.
“Connor coming up big again,” Spring-Ford coach Jamie Scheck said. “He’s been doing that all year, but unfortunately we couldn’t hold the lead.”
The Hatters got the scoring started in the fifth inning. Long worked a one-out walk. Carpenter pinch ran and stole second then advanced to third on a Schultz grounder to shortstop. Thomas knocked Carpenter in with a single.
“I can’t say enough about Ryan Long — our designated hitter in the nine hole,” Moore said. “Works his way on base. Two really good at-bats and leads to two runs of our three runs. Then Carpenter comes in and runs for him. Carpenter steals a bag to get into scoring position early and scores and then he runs the bases smart there late in the game. The kids are just doing what we ask them to do. It’s fun.”
Alex Crim gets the win for Hatboro-Horsham after throwing a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts.
Kennedy threw the first six innings, striking out seven batters and allowing two runs on six hits. His best inning was the fifth, when he pitched around a leadoff single followed by an error to keep the Rams off the board.
Thomas Hughes entered the game for Spring-Ford with two on and no outs in the seventh. He hit Thomas with a pitch and had Kennedy ground into an error.
Kelchner allowed one run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Nick Brauer took the loss. He surrendered two runs in 1 1/3 innings of no-hit ball with three walks and two strikeouts.
The loss brings an end to Spring-Ford’s season.
“We didn’t get a couple calls there in the end,” Scheck said. “I thought we had (Long) struck out, which is huge — didn’t go our way. We have to bounce back and get the next guy. We had opportunities in this game. We hit the ball hard, we hit it at people. This is one of my favorite group of kids. Had a lot of seniors (15) this year, awesome leadership and for them to end like that, it’s tough.”
Hatboro-Horsham 3, Spring-Ford 2
Spring-Ford 000 002 0 — 2
Hatboro-Horsham 000 010 2 — 3
WP: Alex Crim 1 IP 2 K 0 BB 0 H 0 R 0 ER
LP: Nick Brauer 1.1 IP 2 K 3 BB 0 H 2 R 0 ER