The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

April 23, 2013

UPJ splits twin bill with West Virginia Wesleyan

JOHNSTOWN — Todd Williams won his 399th game as Pitt-Johnstown’s head baseball coach during a doubleheader split on Tuesday night at Point Stadium.

Williams isn’t thinking about No. 400.

Instead, he’s hoping to reach 402.

UPJ has three games remaining – all against Shepherd at the Point.

“We’ve got to win all three on Saturday and Sunday (to earn a spot in the WVIAC playoffs),” Williams said after the Mountain Cats beat West Virginia Wesleyan 3-2 in Tuesday’s nightcap. “The other teams we’re in contention with each won both games (Tuesday) and we split.”

West Virginia Wesleyan won Game 1, also by a 3-2 count.

“3-2 and 3-2. Two good games,” Williams said. “We’re both battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in our respective divisions and it showed.”

UPJ is 25-18 overall and 13-14 in the WVIAC North.

Fairmont State (20-20) currently holds the final spot with a 16-13 conference mark. Alderson-Broaddus (21-20) is 16-16 in the WVIAC.

The Cats must win three games against division second-place Shepherd and hope for help because the playoff berths are based on a complicated point system.

UPJ junior right-hander Derek Younker had a big role in keeping those playoff hopes alive.

Younker pitched six innings, allowing eight hits and two runs with striking out three and walking one in Game 2.

He worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth, preserving UPJ’s lead.

“Quite honestly, I was real nervous at that point,” Younker said after winning his seventh game this season. “There were two guys on, and we had a play we didn’t make at third (on a sacrifice bunt attempt). Then I just bore down and made some pitches and things happened.”

Younker gave up back-to-back singles to Matt Edwards and Ryan Lewicke, and the throw to third on Spencer Webley’s bunt was a bit late.

Aaron Weigel’s hard grounder to third resulted in a force out at the plate. Younker struck out John Koon during a eight-pitch at-bat and retired Mitch Tomlinson on a fly to right.

“That was huge,” Williams said. “That’s ‘Younk’ bringing his ‘A’ game. He doesn’t panic. He works. He fights. He battles. He pitches.”

In Game 2, UPJ freshman DH Nate Negri had three hits, and junior Matt McGee went 2-for-2 with a run scored. Kyle Morrow had a double and scored twice.

In Game 1, West Virginia Wesleyan left-hander Casey Defibaugh allowed two hits in six innings, and reliever Chris Stein held off a seventh-inning rally in the visitors’ 3-2 win.

“We weren’t patient,” Williams said after UPJ had only three hits in the opener.

“We swung at his pitches instead of waiting for him to make his mistakes. His pitch count was down and that enabled him to go six innings and that’s to his credit.”

Jeff Campbell doubled and drove in a run for UPJ in Game 1. McGee and Sam Barbera each had hits.

“We have to take one at a time and we have to do it as a team,” Younker said. “We’re going to have to have good pitching. We’re going to have to focus at the plate and just come together as a team.”

As for his coach nearing a milestone, Younker said the Cats must deliver in order to have a shot at the postseason.

“We have to get it for him,” Younker said. “We’ve got to get it this year at home. He hasn’t said anything about 400 though. I didn’t know until I saw it on Twitter.”

 

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