Upper Moreland falls in 5 to Holy Ghost Prep in District 1-AAA semis

WORCESTER — Some days you just don’t have it. Whether it’s in the field, on the mound or at the plate, there are just those days when nothing seems to go right.

Thursday was one of those days for the Upper Moreland baseball team as it fell to top-seeded Holy Ghost Prep 14-2 in five innings in the District 1-AAA semifinals.

“They’re good, they just beat us,’ Upper Moreland coach Ken Irwin said. “We were maybe a little in awe and our pitchers couldn’t hit spots and when you face a good team and you don’t hit spots you’re in trouble.’

When Irwin says his team may have been in awe, he says it for good reason.

Holy Ghost boasts a lineup of five Division I commits, all that can pitch, who have carried their team throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

Early on, fourth-seeded Upper Moreland didn’t seem to be bothered by the high-powered Firebirds’ roster.

The Golden Bears were able to get to Holy Ghost starter Curtis Staropoli with a first-inning run. Leadoff hitter Kevin Walder started the game by drawing a walk, then stealing second and was eventually knocked in by first baseman Jon Searles with a two out single.

Unfortunately, their pitching just wasn’t where it needed to be in this one.

There was some question as to who the Bears would start in this one. Joe Bates, who has been one of their strongest pitchers, was available after pitching just three innings in their opening round game, but told his coach is arm didn’t feel well enough to pitch.

Sophomore Brandon Kohn got the start for the Bears but only managed to last a third of an inning.

Kohn gave up eight earned runs in the bottom of the first inning and recorded just a single out before he was pulled.

“He (Kohn) just hasn’t learned to hit spots yet because he’s had so much success at his age just throwing the ball by people and he’s got a better than average breaking ball,’ Irwin said. “Today he just couldn’t locate either of them, he became predictable, and they jumped all over him. They didn’t miss anything.’

It started with a couple of walks from Kohn, then Holy Ghost ripped off four straight bases-loaded singles to give them the early lead, and they never looked back.

The Firebirds were led all game by their stars. Leadoff hitter and University of Virginia commit Nolan Jones finished 2-for-2 from the plate with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Jones also closed out the game pitching a perfect fifth inning and striking out the side.

Holy Ghost used three pitchers in the game, which is usually used as a strategy to keep pitchers available and under the maximum amount of innings they can throw in the playoffs. That wasn’t the case on this day, as Firebirds head coach Keith Smeraglio, said it was always his plan to let all his guys throw because he has so many arms he trusts.

“Curtis (Staropoli) was trying to place the ball because it was a very tight zone but then Timmy (Brennan) came in and really put order to the game and then Nolan (Jones) can just really throw hard at the end so it’s nice to have that luxury as a coach,’ Said Smeraglio said. “Our plan was originally to go 3-3-1 (Innings) but the game got shortened so we went 2-2-1 (innings) but we have great depth in pitching and I trust all the pitchers. They’re all high 80’s D-1 guys and I’m going to use them all because it’s hard to hit three different guys.’

Holy Ghost Prep advances to face seventh-seeded Sun Valley — which upset No. 3 Radnor 5-1 in the other semifinal Thursday — for the district title 4 p.m. Wednesday at Spring-Ford.

As for the Golden Bears, the season may not have ended as they hoped, but they are certainly not going to hang their heads on the loss. This is a team that had only one returning starter on their roster this year and accomplished their preseason goal of reaching the district playoffs.

“This is a whole new team. We showed growth which was the best part. We struggled a little early on but we got better as the season went on, but today we just didn’t show that,’ Irwin said. “Unfortunately, unless you win it all you end up losing your last game so this doesn’t mean this was a bad season. The bad feeling should go away by the time they get on the bus because our main goal this year was to make the playoffs and then it was a bonus to get a win but it is great experience to get on the field with Holy Ghost and to see the level that they are.’

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