Pitt-Johnstown pitcher Derek Younker efficiently worked his way to a March Point Stadium Award nomination.
His teammate Nate Negri pulled off a rare feat to take the April nomination.
Younker and Negri are the first two Point Stadium Award monthly nominees of 2014.
“I’ve always took pride in throwing a lot of strikes,” said Younker, who needed only 68 pitches in a 1-0, seven-inning shutout over Clarion on March 28.
“I was getting them to swing on some first-pitch strikes that were favorable to me and my defense’s work was crucial.”
Younker scattered five hits while facing only 26 batters.
The senior right-hander from Southern Fulton didn’t allow a walk. He induced 10 flyouts, nine ground outs and had one strikeout.
“It’s definitely an honor (earning the Point Stadium Award nomination),” said Younker, who has played at the Point regularly with Pitt-Johnstown and Martella’s Pharmacy in the AAABA League. “There are so many games played at the Point among high school, college and AAABA. With all the guys that could be nominated, it’s a cool honor. It’s a pretty big deal in the Johnstown area.”
Negri hit for the cycle in Pitt-Johnstown’s 9-0 win over Gannon in the second game of an April 26 doubleheader.
The Mountain Cats swept two at home and then followed up with a doubleheader sweep the next day at Gannon to clinch the PSAC West Division third seed in the playoffs.
The sophomore left fielder from Huntingdon started his big game with a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning.
“It was left-center field over the brick wall,” said Negri, who scored four runs and drove in another. “It was a high, inside fastball on a 3-1 count.”
Negri doubled and scored in the third inning. He tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
As he stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the sixth, Negri was aware he only needed a single to complete the cycle.
With Pitt-Johnstown leading by such a large margin, he also knew it would be his final at-bat of the game.
“I was just thinking to myself just to take the same approach I had been taking all day. Don’t change up anything,” Negri said. “There was a new pitcher on the mound. I was trying to get my timing down. I wanted to stay back and wait for my pitch.”
The home-and-home sweeps over Gannon enabled Pitt-Johnstown to finish the regular season at .500 and enter the PSAC tournament as the third-place squad from the West Division.
After the Mountain Cats split a pair of PSAC playoff games, coach Todd Williams’ team closed with a 23-23 record.
“In terms of hitting for the cycle, it was exciting to say the least,” Negri said. “At the time we were still fighting for not only our playoff hopes but also for good seeding. It was a mix between that aspect and the fact that it was senior night. It was a lot of fun. It was one of my most memorable times in baseball.”
The monthly Point Stadium Award nominees will receive commemorative wrist watches and be eligible to receive a scholarship during the annual banquet, which will be held Dec. 19 at Ace’s Lounge.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.