Moran honors grandmom on field

Sean Moran is working his way back into the Crusaders’ rotation. CONTRIBUTED

Sean Moran’s grandmother loved to watch him play sports.

Even when she wasn’t 100 percent sure about what she was watching.

When the Father Judge High School senior was playing soccer as a youth, his grandmother would often be in attendance. And while she might not have the greatest advice when it comes to athletics, she was quick to cheer for her boy.

“I was a defender, but whenever I would get the ball she would yell for me to shoot it,” Moran said. “She was always there, soccer and baseball. She would come to everything. We were really close with her. She knew baseball more than soccer, I think, but she knew both pretty good.”

Last month, Moran’s grandmom passed away, but her grandson keeps making her proud in the classroom and now on the baseball field, where he serves as a pitcher for the Crusaders.

“It’s hard because we were really close,” Moran said of his mother’s mom. “She would always support me in everything, not just sports, but everything.”

She’d be very happy with the way the Crusaders are playing.

Judge came into the season with some solid players, but also some question marks. One of the biggest questions was who would step up to be the top pitcher since last year’s Catholic League MVP, Chuck Kelley, graduated. Moran was one of the pitchers who needed to step up for Judge to contend for a playoff spot.

He did, going 2-1 despite some hamstring woes, and Judge is on its way to the postseason.

The Crusaders finished the season 8-4, which puts them in fifth place in the balanced and competitive Catholic League. Regular season games ended after the Times went to press, so playoff seedings will be determined by Wednesday.

For Moran, he just wants to get healthy and help the Crusaders go as far as they can.

“My hamstring feels better, when it happened it really hurt, but I’ve been coming back a little bit at a time,” said Moran, who lives in Pennypack. “When it happened, I didn’t feel a pop, but I knew it was bad right away. I’m getting strong. I started throwing bullpen and rehabbing it. It feels good now.”

While he was on the sidelines, he continued to come around and help his teammates by being one of the senior leaders.

Some might be surprised the Crusaders are in the mix for a championship, but he expected it from the start.

“I just knew what we had and I was confident in a lot of the players,” Moran said. “I knew coming in it was going to be a good year because of who we had. A lot of the guys played last year and helped us. I knew they were going to be better.”

Last year was a great trial run for Moran and his mates.

The Crusaders won a first-round game over the defending Catholic League champions Neumann-Goretti before falling to the eventual champ La Salle in the semifinals.

The experience will only pay off this year when the Crusaders once again try to bring home a title.

“It’s going pretty good, we are pushing for the playoffs,” Moran said. “This year has been good, especially the pitching because guys stepped up. Lenny Gipson has really pitched well and so has Justin Barcowski. We needed pitching, and both of them really pitched well. They were really good and learned quickly. They were pitching great.”

This is likely Moran’s last chance to win a championship while representing his school. But he does see baseball in his future.

Next year, he plans to go to Holy Family, where he’ll major in business sports management, and if all goes well, he hopes to some day work in a front office of a baseball team. The Tigers don’t have a baseball team, but there are ways he can play.

“I hope to join a club team there,” the lefty said. “I definitely want to keep playing. I like Holy Family a lot. It’s a good school and it’s close. I like that.”

But before he’s representing the Tigers in club ball, he still has unfinished business left with his high school mates.

It won’t be an easy battle.

Teams like La Salle, Roman Catholic, Archbishop Wood and Cardinal O’Hara all finished PCL play with a better record than the Crusaders, but as the tight standings show, any team is capable of beating anyone else.

So if Moran and the rest of the pitching are at top strength, why not the Crusaders? Especially with a rested Moran ready.

“I feel really good, my arm feels great,” said Moran, who throws a fastball and a curveball among his pitches. “My goal is just to play for as long as we can. This league is really good, but I think we’re really good.

“It’s going to be tough for any team to get knocked out, but we have confidence. We worked really hard since workouts. I think we can beat anyone, we just have to do it.”

Grandmom would love to cheer for that!