A-K Valley boys baseball notebook: Hot bats, solid pitching boost Deer Lakes

Thursday, April 8, 2021 | 9:04 PM

With a few big bats and some dominant pitching from juniors Justin Brannagan and Jacob Danka, the Deer Lakes Lancers have gotten off to a hot start in 2021.

Two of their four wins have come by 10 runs and their other two victories came by a combined nine runs. While the offense has been producing, the Lancers (4-1, 2-0) have been just as good defensively.

Brannagan has been solid on the mound for the Lancers, pitching 19 innings and recording a 1.47 ERA with 21 strikeouts, allowing just four earned runs.

In Deer Lakes’ first Section 3-3A victory of the season over Mt. Pleasant, Brannagan scattered six hits over seven innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out five. He also shut out Steel Valley in the season opener, allowing two hits in a six-inning performance while striking out eight.

Danka has thrown 10 innings and has struck out 12 batters while allowing only two earned runs.

While the Lancers have been hot on the mound, they’ve been just as good at the plate.

Through five games, senior Ryan Rodgers has produced a .615 batting average and has driven in five runs while tallying eight hits. He’s also walked six times.

Brannagan has been just as big at the plate, hitting .438 with seven hits, three RBIs, two doubles and a triple. Josh Wachter leads the Lancers with six RBIs and has tallied five hits in 13 at-bats.

Up and down the order, the Lancers have been hot, and they kicked off section play with back-to-back wins over Mt. Pleasant. Their only loss came against Knoch when Rodgers and Danka were touched up for two earned runs apiece in a 5-2 decision.

Two wins, one day

After their opener with North Hills was postponed, the Plum Mustangs (2-0, 2-0) started off their season with a doubleheader sweep of Section 2-5A opponent Armstrong.

Collin Solinski got Plum’s first win of the season when he threw five innings of two-hit ball while striking out six in a 7-2 victory. Brady Dajonovic threw five innings of one-hit ball as Plum completed the sweep.

Between the two games, Nate McMasters tallied four doubles and drove in two runs.

A flair for the dramatic

The Highlands Golden Rams (3-2, 2-0) had a flair for the dramatic earlier this week when they recorded two one-run victories over Knoch to earn their first Section 1-4A wins of the season.

On Tuesday, Highlands scored twice in the first inning and a four-hit, 10-strikeout performance from Tanner Nulph held off the Knights the rest of the way before sophomore Jimmy Kunst closed the door in the final inning.

In the second game of the two-game series, junior infielder Seth Helgert delivered a two-run walkoff double in the bottom of the seventh to give Highlands a 3-2 victory after going hitless in his first three at-bats of the game.

“Good teams find ways to win,” Highlands coach Jeff Campbell said. “I told the guys, ‘You are finding ways to win, so what’s that tell you?’ We’re getting there.”

A perfect start

The Riverview Raiders (3-0, 2-0) are another team that has started off the season without a loss. They earned their first win of the season with a 16-0 victory over Carlynton as Enzo Lio limited the Cougars to just one hit.

The Raiders also dominated St. Joseph in their first two Section 3-A matchups of the season. They scored 24 runs between the two games and only allowed the Spartans to score six total runs.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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