As has been the case thus far in conference play, Cheltenham's defense and its pitching got the job done. And thanks to a fantastic performance from senior Mark Heimann and some excellent defensive play behind the right-hander, the Panthers remained undefeated against conference opponents.
Heimann tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just two hits while striking out six batters in a 3-0 Panthers win over Upper Moreland in a Suburban One American Conference meeting at Cheltenham on Monday afternoon.
In a game which lasted only an hour, 22 minutes, and on a day which saw wind gusts reach more than 40 mph, the Panthers (6-3, 4-0) scored two runs in the bottom of the third and one more insurance run in the fourth to come out on top and remain tied atop the conference standings.
"The defense was fantastic,' Heimann said. "They were catching everything and it's great to have as a pitcher. Today was better than normal for me on the mound also. Upper Moreland is a good hitting team and I was just able to locate my pitches.'
Heimann allowed three baserunners in the first inning, but worked out of the jam. In the second, he again worked out of a jam and then cruised until the end, getting out of a couple of innings while only needing to throw a single-digit number of pitches.
"Mark was outstanding,' Cheltenham coach Frank Decembrino said. "We had a game plan to go out and pitch to contact — especially in these elements — and give us a chance to make plays behind our pitcher. He stayed within himself and delivered and threw a lot of strikes. Defensively, the kids came to play. They were focused and they're starting to play for each other. The communication is great and there were balls between guys that they were able to direct to the right position and work together. That helps, especially on a day like this.'
While Heimann was keeping the Bears (3-3, 2-3) off the scoreboard, Cheltenham's offense made some noise in the bottom half of the third inning, as Wes Tarver reached on an error, stole second and eventually scored a couple of batters later. Later in the inning, Kevin Graham singled, stole second and eventually scored on an RBI single by Max Perilstein.
In the fourth, Cheltenham tacked on one more run when Amari Cathay hit a sacrifice fly to score Calvin Salazar, who led off the inning with a single.
With the comfortable lead, Heimann ended things as quickly as possible.
"The kid pitched a good game,' Upper Moreland coach Ernie Rehr said of Heimann. "He kept the ball around the zone and pitched to contact. We had to play a better game of baseball and the kids all know it. It hasn't been a lack of hitting, but just a lack of confidence. I don't know where it comes from because it doesn't come from us. As coaches, we know these kids are really good and we have a lot of confidence in them. The lack of confidence is showing pretty clearly right now.'
Upper Moreland pitcher Charlie Hooker pitched well, going six innings, allowing five hits while walking none. He struck out three batters and allowed three runs — all of which were unearned.
Cheltenham was led offensively by Perilstein, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Graham went 2-for-3 with a run, while Salazar went 1-for-3 with a run. In the field, the Panthers got excellent play from Tarver at second base and Salazar at shortstop.
"Our defense has been solid across the field and our pitching gives us the opportunity to win, but we still have to make plays,' Decembrino said.
Regarding the team's 4-0 start in conference play, Heimann said, "It's really a great mental block to work from moving forward because we're ahead of everybody else.'
U.Moreland ab r h bi Cheltenham ab r h bi
Irwin ss 1 0 0 0 Harris cf 3 0 0 0
Driscoll c 2 0 0 0 Hofferman 3b 3 0 0 0
Ch. Hooker p 3 0 1 0 Graham 1b 3 1 2 0
Cavanaugh 3b 3 0 0 0 Perilstein c 3 0 2 1
Co. Hooker 1b 3 0 0 0 Heimann p 3 0 0 0
Robinson rf 3 0 0 0 Salazar ss 3 1 1 0
Bennis ss 0 0 0 0 Owens rf 3 0 0 0
Casey dh 3 0 1 0 Cathay lf 1 0 0 1
Decker lf 1 0 0 0 Tarver 2b 2 1 0 0
Corr 2b 2 0 0 0 Giddings pr 0 0 0 0
Totals: 21 0 2 0 Totals: 24 3 5 2
Upper Moreland 000 000 0—0
Cheltenham 002 100 x—3
ip h r er so bb
Ch. Hooker (L) 6 5 3 0 3 0
Heimann (W) 7 2 0 0 6 4