The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


May 1, 2014

Younker keeps UPJ alive in PSAC

Butler — Pitt-Johnstown senior pitcher Derek Younker had tossed a gem through eight innings of a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference baseball championship tournament opening-round game on Thursday.

But the right-hander was in a jam in the bottom of the ninth inning at Kelly Automotive Stadium.

Bloomsburg loaded the bases with no outs in a game the Mountain Cats led by two runs.

Younker and the Cats refused to flinch.

UPJ induced a doubleplay. The Huskies scored a run and had a man on third, but Younker struck out the final batter to preserve UPJ’s 2-1 victory.

“You get the lead-off double, and then hit the kid with a pitch,” Younker said of the Bloomsburg ninth. “Then they bunt (and reach base). You really have to bear down. We made a good pitch. Our D made a good play and turned the doubleplay. I went 0-2 on the next batter, and the kid went for it. It was a great relief, a great team win.”

PSAC West third-seed UPJ (23-22) advances to play the  Kutztown in today’s 3 p.m. semifinal game in Butler. Kutzdown beat Seton Hill 2-1 in 12 innings on Thursday night.

The title game of the single-elimination tournament is set for Saturday.

“Younk was phenomenal,” UPJ coach Todd Williams said. “He was spot on the whole day. The last inning he got in trouble with the bases loaded. But he got the good old friend, the double-play ball. Then he struck out the last guy. He did what we knew he could do. He pitched like a senior that has been there before.”

Younker and Bloomsburg’s Casey Cooperman dueled throughout the game. Both pitched all nine innings.

UPJ got to Cooperman in the top of the seventh. Jake Warner doubled to right-center field to start the inning. Matt McGhee’s two-out double plated Warner. Ernesto Rizzitano lined a single to center to make it 2-0.

“Matt McGhee, another senior, came through,” Williams said. “They had a good scouting report on us and were playing us where we usually hit the ball. Matt got a hold of one and hit it into the gap.

He came around on a single by Rizzitano.

“We had two very good at-bats back-to-back and scored some runs. Jake Warner (3-for-4) hit the ball well today. Everybody hit. We had only one strikeout.”

Younker said the support provided a boost.

“That was a huge momentum shift,” said Younker, who struck out five and walked none while improving to 8-4. “It just lifted our whole team. They were into the game the whole time, and when that happened, there was no looking back.”

Bloomsburg closed a 28-19 season despite Cooperman’s solid outing.

“Definitely a pitching battle,” Williams said. “They were both basically the same type pitchers. They were in the strike zone all the time. They kept the hitters off balance. both pitchers did a great job. And, there were some unbelieveable defensive plays on both sides too.”

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