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Nolan looks sharp, Abington holds off Central Bucks West

Abington’s Sonny Stevenson slides in for a run as Central Bucks West’s Josh Crecca reaches for the ball during their game on Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

DOYLESTOWN >> Given how rambunctious the Central Bucks West bats would prove to be later on, the fact Abington starter J.P. Nolan kept them silent through three and a third innings was all the more impressive.

The 6-foot-4 Nolan, fresh off a lengthy postseason run with the basketball team that saw the Ghosts reach the state quarterfinals, racked up seven strikeouts, not allowing a hit or a run and walking just one.

“My fastball was working and my off-speed was really working,” said Nolan, who struck out six consecutive batters at one point in giving the Ghosts a tremendous edge.

In addition to his work on the mound, Nolan added a pair of RBIs to help Abington to an 8-0 lead, and the Ghosts survived quite a rally by West, holding on for an 8-6 victory Thursday in a Suburban One League non-conference game.

Abington’s JP Nolan on the mound during game against Central Bucks West on Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

“I love this team. I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people,” Nolan said. “I know (West starting pitcher) Matt Cooper and I know they’re a good team.

“I did what I could. I’ve had basketball so I haven’t really been here a lot, only like two or three practices. So I haven’t thrown.”

Nolan looked solid in his three and a third innings of work, during which Abington began to build a substantial lead.

Ghosts Get It Going

Jordan Grimaldi was hit by a pitch, stole second and third, then raced home on Nolan’s RBI single, making it 1-0 in the third. After a double steal netted another run in the fourth, the Ghosts (1-1) made it 3-0 in the fifth when a sac fly by Nolan brought in Liam Friel.

Leave the rest to Steve Vogl.

“Steve’s just been killing the ball,” Nolan said.

Central Bucks West second baseman Ryan Rudek works to control a throw as Abington’s Jake Silverman steals second base during their game on Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Vogl, who belted a pair of doubles and a home run, launched a two-run homer to left to make it 5-0 Ghosts in the sixth.

“We knew he had it in him last year. He didn’t get a lot of experience because we had a senior catcher and Steve was a sophomore,” Ghosts coach Jon Morrissette said, “but we knew he had the potential, and he sure showed it today.”

Friel singled in a run and the Ghosts plated two more off an error and a wild pitch, stretching the lead to 8-0. That set up a wild finish.

Here Come The Bucks

West batted around in the bottom of the sixth, getting RBI hits from Tyler Dalzell and Josh Hannon, and when Blaise Heacox knocked in another, suddenly the margin had been slashed to 8-6.

“We had been struggling offensively and we put together a lot of good at-bats there,” Bucks coach Brad Tracy said. “That’s what we want, to work hard, compete. We’re looking for competitors, people who aren’t gonna back down.

“We very easily could have packed it in down (8-0) that late in the game, but they fought. That’s the team we wanna be, a team that never quits.”

Central Bucks West third baseman Matt McCarthy tags out Abington’s Sonny Stevenson during their game on Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

The Bucks (0-2) forced Abington to go to its fifth arm of the afternoon in Jamie Burkhart, but he got it done, allowing just one base runner in the seventh, finishing what Nolan started.

“J.P. looked outstanding. We knew we had a special pitcher in him last year and are looking forward to having him again this year. He did a great job as always,” Morrissette said of the right hander. “It’s a tremendous win, a good way to get our confidence going heading into our conference schedule next week.”

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