The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

April 28, 2013

Walk-off homer gives Williams win No. 400

JOHNSTOWN — The Pitt-Johnstown baseball team seemed to be headed to a completely forgettable Saturday evening at Point Stadium.

The Mountain Cats’ already slim WVIAC playoff hopes were fading.

The chance to win No. 400 for coach Todd Williams appeared to be out of reach for at least one more day.

Then suddenly, the Mountain Cats showed why teams play until the final strike and final out.

Junior catcher Kyle Morrow capped a two-out rally with a walk-off, three-run homer over the left-field screen as UPJ came back to beat Shepherd, 6-4, and split a doubleheader.

The blast onto Johns Street secured Williams’ 400th victory since he took over in 1998.

“That was awesome,” Morrow said. “I didn’t know until the game was over that it was his 400th win. That felt really good to know I had a big part in it.

“I only hit one other walk-off home run and that was my sophomore year in high school (at Mount Union).”

UPJ (26-19 overall, 14-15) will end its regular season against Shepherd today at the Point. The Cats still have hopes of sneaking into the conference playoffs based on the points system, but would have to win and get some help.

“I wish we would have won the first one, too, but I guess that’s the way it goes,” Williams said of reaching 400. “It makes me feel good that we’ve been putting a program together the last 16 years that has been competitive and going in the right direction. That’s all I can ask, to be competitive and have these kids play hard. It’s all attributed to them.”

Shepherd led, 4-3, as UPJ came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.

The Rams got the first two outs.

But Sam Barbera started the two-out rally with a line-drive double. Mike Palkovich walked to set the table for Morrow.

“Sammy Barbera started it off by hitting one to the left-center gap,” Williams said. “He took off and made it to second base on pure hustle.

“Then Palkovich got walked, and Morrow came up and had a two-strike count on him. He just launched a missile out of the stadium. It was an awesome hit.”

Morrow guessed correctly on the pitch from Shepherd right-hander Tyler Thomas.

“He was throwing me a lot of sliders. He threw me a couple sliders in the count and got me down 1-2,” Morrow said. “He already threw me two sliders in a row, so I figured he was going to come after me with another one. Sure enough he did.”

Derek Younker pitched a complete game for his eighth win. He struck out six and walked none while allowing 14 hits.

In Game 1, Shepherd (25-19, 21-9) had 20 hits, including Kyle Porter’s 4-for-5 showing with a three-run homer. Jake Warner went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI for UPJ in the opener, and Palkovich and Jeff Campbell each had two hits and two RBI. Nate Pope hit a solo homer in the second game, and Campbell went 3-for-3 and drove in a run.

“Mathematically we’re alive,” Williams said, hoping for No. 401 today. “We have to win and wait and see what happens. No doubt, we have to win.”

 

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