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Times Herald/Reporter/Montgomery area state baseball preview

Now that the district playoffs are in the books, eight local teams have their sights set on states.

Faith Christian, Dock Mennonite and Archbishop Wood each won their respective districts while North Penn, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland, Hatboro-Horsham and Perk Valley did enough to reach the state tournament.

All games are scheduled to be played Monday with the winners advancing to the second round Thursday.

Class-A

(1-1) Faith Christian vs. (3-2) Millersburg >> District 1 champion Faith Christian will face District 3 runner-up Millersburg at 4 p.m. at Spring-Ford High School.

Faith Christian is coming off one of its most impressive performances of the season. The Lions avenged two regular season losses to Plumstead Christian to win the District 1 title, 12-2.

Class-AA

(1-1) Dock Mennonite vs. (12-1) Neumann-Goretti >> District 1 champion Dock Mennonite will face District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti at 4 p.m. at Archbishop Wood High School.

Dock kept its opponents scoreless throughout the district playoffs. The Pioneers beat Bristol, 4-0, and Devon Prep, 2-0.

Neumann-Goretti won the Philadelphia Catholic League title in addition to the District 12 title. The Saints captured the PCL crown with a 6-4 win over Archbishop Wood and the District 12 championship with an 8-4 win over MaST Charter.

Class-5A

(1-3) Upper Moreland vs. (12-1) Archbishop Wood >> District 1 No. 3 seed Upper Moreland will face District 12 champion Archbishop Wood at 4 p.m. at La Salle College High School.

Wood finished fifth in the regular season in the Philadelphia Catholic League before making a run to the final where it lost to Neumann-Goretti, 6-4. The Vikings bounced back to win the District 12 title, 11-0, over Franklin Towne Charter.

Upper Moreland upset WC Henderson, 3-0, and Holy Ghost Prep, 1-0, in the first two rounds of the District 1 tournament. The Golden Bears lost to Marple Newtown, 8-3, in the semifinals and beat Upper Merion, 3-2, in the third-place game.

Whether Upper Moreland throws Tommy Jacob or Brandon Kohn, either pitcher will need to be at their best to have a chance against the Catholic League powerhouse.

(1-4) Upper Merion vs. (2-1) Wallenpaupack >> District 1 No. 4 seed Upper Merion will face District 2 champion Wallenpaupack at 4:30 p.m. at Marywood University in Scranton.

It was quite a year for the Vikings in their first season as members of the Pioneer Athletic Conference. They snuck into the District 1 playoffs as the No. 16 seed and upset No. 1 Interboro, 3-2, in the first round. They followed that with a 6-3 win over No. 8 WC Rustin to clinch a state berth.

“We showed throughout the regular season that if we play our game, we can beat anybody,” UM coach Matt Mitchell said after securing a spot in states. “So it’s not a shock to me, especially with the way we’ve turned it on late leading up to the playoffs.”

They lost a nail-biter in the semifinals to Springfield (D), 7-6, before losing a seeding game to Upper Moreland, 3-2.

Class-6A

(1-2) North Penn vs. (12-2) St. Joseph’s Prep >> District 1 runner-up North Penn takes on District 12 runner-up St. Joseph’s Prep at 4 p.m. at Immaculata University.

The Knights — the Suburban One League Continental Conference champs — know a thing or two about having success in the state playoffs. When Class-AAAA was the biggest classification, they won state titles in 2009, 2013 and 2015.

They lost the District 1 championship game to Pennsbury, 5-3.

“The consolation prize is we’re still in the state tournament and you have to do a lot of things right just to get to that point and we have to remember that,” Knights coach Kevin Manero said.

“I think we have a lot of good parts, our pitching has been good for us this year. Our starting pitching has been great, we have guys to go to out of the bullpen who throw strikes. We generally make plays, we have good team speed, a lot of those little things were if you put them together, you’re not going to be a team that drops a bunch of games in a row. We generally play good baseball every time we come out and most of the time, that will go in your favor.”

Prep was the No. 1 seed in the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs and lost to Wood, 7-0, in the semifinals. They followed that with another loss to Frankford, 9-7, in the District 12 title game.

(1-4) Perk Valley vs. (4-1) Williamsport >> District 1 No. 4 seed Perk Valley will face District 4 champion Williamsport at 6:30 p.m. at Central Columbia High School.

Perk Valley enters the state tournament on a two-game losing streak. The Vikings lost to North Penn, 3-1, in the semifinals and to Neshaminy, 6-2, in the third-place seeding game.

They beat Garnet Valley, 2-1, and Hatboro-Horsham, 2-1, in their first two district games to clinch a spot in states.

(1-5) Hatboro-Horsham vs. (3-1) Dallastown >> District 1 No. 5 seed Hatboro-Horsham takes on District 3 champion Dallastown at 4 p.m. at Red Lion High School.

The Hatters won the Suburban One League American Conference and earned the No. 2 seed in the District 1 tournament. After their bye, they beat Avon Grove before losing to Perk Valley in the quarterfinals. In the playback bracket, they topped Council Rock South and Spring-Ford to earn the fifth seed and final state playoff berth from District 1.

Pete Moore coached Hatboro-Horsham in 2012 when the team went to the state semifinals and sees some of the same traits with this team.

“(The 2012) group and this group have so many similarities,” Moore said.

“Two really special groups — kids you connect with and you know are going to work real hard for you day-in and day-out. Some of our best days with both groups are practices. That’s not normal — normally you just live for the games. While we love the games, it’s fun practicing and working with these guys.”

Starting pitchers Brian Edgington and Colin Kennedy — who at one point combined for six consecutive shutouts — should be the key to this team making noise in states.

“The pitching for sure,” Moore said of what gives his team a shot in states, “and the fact that we’ve played so many tight games and low-scoring games and we don’t beat ourselves. Our defense has been really solid and we’re very good with our situations and hitting. The fact that we can get down a little bit and our body language isn’t going to be bad. We’re not going to have a bad attitude. We can be down on the scoreboard, but we’re still going to be up in the dugout.”

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