UPPER MORELAND >> A season removed from a successful season that included a District One playoff appearance, Upper Moreland High’s baseball team showed off its poise and veteran calm Thursday in a 10-3 victory over visiting Plymouth Whitemarsh.
The Bears survived a big Colonials threat in the top of the first inning, countered with a four spot in the home half, then never looked back en route to the easy victory.
Starting pitcher Joe Bates, one of three hurlers used by Bears head coach Ernie Rehr, tossed four solid innings, then gave way to the bullpen as Upper Moreland won going away with virtually every Bears player getting some playing time.
“We have a lot of guys back,” said Bears head coach Ernie Rehr, “and they learned a lot last year.
“We won a playoff game after being down, 4-0, so our guys know what it takes.”
That’s in sharp contrast to the Colonials, who started three freshmen and a sophomore, but who gave the Bears a scare in the top of the first inning when Noah Goldstein singled with one out, moved to second on a walk by Dillon Famous and then scored on John Pecharo’s double.
The Colonials were in position to put together a big inning, but Connor Burke flied to shallow center and Bears third baseman Christian Leighton made a good diving backhanded stop of a ball off the bat of Drew Kleish to save two more runs.
It took Upper Moreland only a handful of pitches to tie the game, as Randy Meehl stroked a line drive to the gap off PW starter Matt Cooper, reached third and then circled the bases when the ball was bobbled by the Colonials outfield.
Before the inning would end, the Bears would add three more runs as Paul Campoli and Tom Jacobs each singled home a run and another scored on a PW error.
It was 4-1, and it was game, set and match.
“I felt we should have had more runs in that first inning,” said PW head coach Chris Manero, “and then we didn’t come back with a shutdown inning of our own.
“We gave it back, and then some.”
From that point on, the Bears would lead the rest of the way, finally putting the issue to rest by scoring six runs over the final three innings.
“We want to take things one game at a time,” said Meehl, “but we’re looking to have a good season.
“That first inning was big for us. We got out of trouble in the top of the inning, then came back with a big inning of our own. It’s always good to start with an inning like that.”
Bates set the Colonials down in order in both the second and third innings, but after yielding a fourth-inning run on Connor Burke’s double and Kleish’s single, Rehr went right to the pen to start to the fifth.
“We believe we have seven quality pitchers,” Rehr said. “Our goal is to keep them all strong, so we’ll have a lot of games this year that we’ll use three guys.”
Brandon Kohn kept PW in check through the sixth, by which time the Bears had an 8-2 lead thanks to a three-run fifth that featured an RBI triple by Nick DeLucas and Meehl’s sacrifice fly.
The Bears tacked on two more in the sixth and the rout was complete.
“Our pitchers pitched well and our defense played well early, and we were good the rest of the way,” Meehl said.
“We put too many guys on base,” Manero said, “whether it was defensive miscues or bases on balls. We weren’t sharp on the mound today, and the few chances we had to get back in the game we kind of gave away.”