Deer Lakes punches ticket to quarterfinals with come-from-behind win over Yough

Thursday, May 20, 2021 | 6:32 PM

When the WPIAL playoff brackets were first released last week, Deer Lakes and Yough were scheduled to play at Latrobe at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Due to the Lancers holding prom on the same night, the game was moved to an earlier time and a location closer to Deer Lakes.

Some high school coaches might be worried about their players looking ahead to a night of fun with their friends, but Deer Lakes coach Josh Tysk isn’t one of them, and his team showed why on Thursday.

After falling behind in the top of the fifth inning, the No. 8 Lancers (10-6) scored two runs in the bottom half and added another two in the sixth to earn a 5-4 victory over No. 9 Yough (7-8), punching their ticket to the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals.

“We talked about it all week that this (the game) comes first and that (the prom) comes next and just being in the moment and playing the game,” Tysk said. “We talked all week at the end of practice how more enjoyable it would be to go to prom on a W than an out. So, I think that was our mindset, and I was never really worried that they would lack focus. This is what they’ve been doing for five months now.”

The Lancers will play the winner of No. 1 Hopewell and No. 16 Waynesburg on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

Deer Lakes struck first in the second inning when freshman Ryan Cochran drove in Josh Wachter from third after he and Jacob Danka led off the inning with back-to-back singles. That was all they were able to get after Yough starter Vinny Martin worked out of the jam with a strikeout and ground out. Then he went and helped himself at the plate.

No. 9 hitter James Shoman, who went 2 for 3, led off with a single, and Logan Cosharek followed it up with a shot to the right side before Miller drove them both in with a two-run single.

“Early on, especially our first time through the lineup, we were anxious, and I think our inexperience in the playoffs showed,” Yough coach Craig Spisak said. “Even though we were there two years ago, some of these kids didn’t see that. So, we were anxious, we struck out a lot, but I thought we settled in at the plate, and the second time through, we were much more comfortable.”

The Cougars struck again in the fifth and scored two runs, but it could’ve been three. Martin drove in Shoman from third and another run came around to score on a miscommunication at first base to make it 4-2.

With runners on first and third and just one out, Sean Royer hit a pop fly that Deer Lakes center fielder Bryce Robson caught on the run. Yough’s Taylor Odelli tagged on the play and came into score, but pinch-runner Blake Ulander forgot to tag up at first and was called out on the play after the Lancers appealed the play, which took the run off the scoreboard.

“It was a force out at first,” Spisak said. “Our base-runner made a sophomore mistake and didn’t realize the ball was caught, I guess. I haven’t talked to him. I don’t know. But if he gets back to first, that run would count, but that was a force out, so the run wouldn’t count. I knew before (the umpire) told me.”

The Lancers went on to take advantage of the blunder as they countered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. After Deer Lakes’ No. 8 and 9 hitters, Jake Thimons and Bryce Robson, who went a combined 5 for 6, led off the inning with two singles, senior captain Ryan Rodgers hit a two-run double to the wall to pull the Lancers within one run.

Deer Lakes took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth when John Lisotto tallied his first hit of the year with a leadoff double down the left-field line. Thimons brought pinch-runner Evan Kijowski in to score with an RBI single to right.

Catcher Tyler Gozzard then scored Thimons with a single to give the Lancers their 5-4 lead.

“We had struggled the last few weeks, and we just couldn’t get that one big hit,” Tysk said. “But I could feel it yesterday that we were going to come out and actually hit the ball today.”

Deer Lakes had 11 hits while Yough only tallied six, and that was due in part to the work of Justin Brannagan. The junior right-hander threw six innings and struck out eight while walking none.

Southpaw Jacob Danka closed the door with a clean seventh inning for the save.

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

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