WEST YORK 2, UPPER MORELAND 1
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - An inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position, a catcher's-interference ruling, and a controversial third-strike call spelled a disappointing end for Upper Moreland.
Leaving nine runners stranded, the upstart Golden Bears bowed to District 3's West York, 2-1, Friday afternoon in the PIAA Class AAA baseball final at Penn State's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
"It's tough right now, but we had a great year," senior centerfielder and leadoff man Matt Kohn said. "Probably in a couple of days we'll be able to appreciate the run we made."
Held to four hits, Upper Moreland, after winning the Suburban One League American Conference title and placing second in the District 1 playoffs, fell just short of the program's first state crown.
The Bulldogs (21-8) managed both of their runs in the second. The latter was unearned, as it followed a one-out, catcher's-interference call against Pat Driscoll. Nick Traettino's groundout to second base was erased, and he later scored on a squeeze-bunt play.
"It was the right call," Golden Bears skipper Ernie Rehr said matter-of-factly. "We couldn't argue it. It was an unfortunate mishap."
Rehr and company did take issue with a seventh-inning call. With one out, the home-plate umpire punched out Robert Knox on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be outside.
"Suddenly, in the last two innings, the strike zone really changed," Rehr said. "And that's tough to adjust to at that point in the game."
For West York, which claimed state gold for the second straight year, southpaw Brandon Kinneman (five innings) and righthander Carson Fries combined on a four-hitter.
Of Kinneman, Rehr said, "We hadn't seen a guy who had thrown that soft all year long. We talked to our guys about making adjustments and keeping their hands back."
Junior righthander Eddie Decker went the distance for Upper Moreland, allowing eight hits and walking two. It was his first setback compared to nine victories.
The Golden Bears (21-5) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first. After drawing a one-out walk, Knox advanced to third on Charlie Hooker's double over the third-base bag, and scored on Driscoll's groundout.
Kinneman walked six batters, including Mike Cavanaugh to start the sixth, before giving way to Fries. "There were one or two opportunities where we could have done better," Rehr said. "In a game like this, you have to appreciate every out."
Kinneman escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. In the seventh, after Hooker walked with two outs and stole second, Fries induced a clinching groundout to shortstop.
For Upper Moreland, second baseman Nick Corbett went 2 for 3. Knox produced a one-out single in the fifth, but, after stealing second and taking third on an errant throw, was left stranded.
West York 020 000 0-2 8 1
Upper Moreland 100 000 0-1 4 2
WP: Brandon Kinneman. LP: Eddie Decker. 2B: WY-Cole Bixler; UM-Charlie Hooker.