Imagine hearing a steady chorus of “meow,” with a silent “e.” All over the place. Starting really silent, then growing louder and LOUDER. Spreading quickly. Ear-shattering crescendo at one point. MOWWWWW….MOWWWWWW….Mowwww.....
These are the very sounds which emanate from South Western’s vibrant bullpen every time NJIT-bound pitcher Eric Moul is flushed into a significant moment. Or really, everytime he’s ready to deliver a pitch.
The senior left-hander ate off of the boundless energy his teammates supplied. Moul’s masterwork delivered the Mustangs’ 3-0 victory over Solanco in a District 3 second round playoff game at the Golden Mules field in rural Quarryville on Monday.
“The biggest thing is we try to have fun as a team,” said Mustangs’ head coach Mike Resetar, whose hyper-energetic squad earned a berth in the quarterfinals against Cedar Crest, a 3-1 winner over Cedar Cliff, on Thursday at a site to be determined.
“Let’s be realistic, baseball can be a boring game at times. We like to enforce some enthusiasm and keep out guys loose in the dugout. Some people like it, others don’t like it much. It really doesn’t help our performance, but if our guys are having fun and staying loose, we have no problem with that.”
Moul twirled a one-hitter through five innings. He was replaced by 6-foot-6 junior Parker Bean, who registered six painless outs, dashing any hopes of a Golden Mule comeback.
Moul pounded the zone early and often. He got ahead of batters and induced routine groundouts and stress-free fly balls throughout the rain-pelted afternoon. The consistent blend of Moul’s curveball, changeup, and eventually a fastball negated Solanco, rendering their bats arctic.
Moul, who fanned three and issued three free passes, attributed extra time in the bullpen and a stout defense for the Mustangs’ success.
South Western feared the prospects of a rain delay or cancellation, as some torrential downpour pelted the Hanover area early in the afternoon.
]Several Mustang players dispatched their uniforms and sprinted out to their cars in shirtless fashion, snagging their bats and gloves before embarking on a two-hour bus ride. The Mustangs got lost, according to Moul, and were entangled in Amish paradise before the bus driver discovered the correct route.
“We were drenched by the time we got to the bus,” said Bean, who went 2-for-3, shanking a pair of doubles. “I definitely felt comfortable at the plate. I got a good round of batting practice in. It was just a matter of staying relaxed out there, just trying to stay focused.”
The Mustangs’ frittered away that focus during the middle innings. South Western, which belted out six hits and was buoyed by a sacrifice fly from Tyler Harris and Bishop Elder, encountered difficulty on the base paths.
Solanco pulled off four pickoffs. The Mustangs were twice caught trying to snag bases.
“That’s good, because now it gives us something we need to really work on during practice,” said Resetar.
The Mustangs built a 2-0 lead when Keith Pappas took advantage of a lackadaisical and costly error. Pappas bunted safely and ended up bolting around the bases following a mishandled ball and errant throw by the first basemen.
“You don’t see that very often,” Resetar said. “I looked up and saw there was nobody standing at home plate. In that situation you just swing and bunt and just run your butt off.”
For Moul, who penned his Division-I letter of intent back in November of 2011, the shutout ball entailed acknowledging his limitations and simultaneously empowering his strengths. Moul usually doesn’t power past hitters, so he relied on a curveball that had plenty of bite. That, meshed in with a changeup, effectively handcuffed a potent lineup.
“I was mainly throwing my fastball and curveball,” said Moul, who executed a 1-2-3 fifth frame.
“They have a reputation for being a very good team, hitting-wise. I got most of my stuff going and worked on pounding the zone. I got their hitters to hit into my defense, which played great throughout. You’ve got to give them credit.”
Solanco’s Mark Kreider labored through all seven innings. Kreider yielded six hits, two earned runs and walked two.
With his teammates continuously serenading him with the classic “Mowwwww” chant.
“I needed that kind of support especially being all the way out here,” said Moul.
“This field has that ‘middle of nowhere’ feel to it,” said Moul. “It was like playing in the ‘field of dreams.’”