Derry captures first section title since 1992 with a 2-1 victory over Deer Lakes

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | 8:29 PM


The last time Derry won a section title in baseball, current coach John Flickinger was a senior in high school.

The Trojans brought that drought to an end Tuesday.

After scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday to earn a come-from-behind victory, the Trojans got to Deer Lakes starter Jacob Danka for two runs Tuesday. Both runs came off the bat of junior Ryan Hood, and Derry held the Lancers to one run to capture the Section 3-3A title for the first time since 1992 with a 2-1 victory.

“I’m kinda speechless still,” senior Josh Ulery said after throwing a complete game, allowing six hits and the lone run while striking out two.

The Trojans haven’t lost a section game since losing to Valley twice in their first section series of the season.

After facing a covid situation that forced them to postpone their exhibition games at the beginning of the season, they dropped both games to the Vikings, 3-2 then 12-8, but their confidence never wavered. Their only other loss came in a 3-2 contest against Richland on April 23.

“We lost those two games, and we sat in the locker room the next day and we said ‘Hey, look, we have a long way to go here. We can’t look back, so let’s still set our goals on getting to the postseason. We just gotta take it one game at a time,’ ” Flickinger said. “That’s what we kept preaching. One game at a time. All of a sudden, here we are. Just to do it was a tremendous mental effort by all those kids.”

In the top of the fourth, Ulery drew his first of two walks, then stole second. Then, Hood delivered a shot to right-center that split the Deer Lakes outfielders and scored Ulery from second base for Derry’s first run.

The Lancers tied the score in the bottom half of the inning when Danka drove in Justin Brannagan from second base with an RBI single to shallow left field.

Two innings later, the combination of Ulery and Hood struck again. Ulery, who leads Derry with a .595 batting average, led off with a single to shallow right, stole second again and Hood drove him in to take the lead for good.

“I was just kind of sitting back on the fastball and waiting for it,” Hood said. “I was able to put it in the gap, so it worked out.”

Hood finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs, and Ulery went 2 for 2.

Danka didn’t make it easy on the Trojans. He threw six innings and scattered seven hits while striking out six. He also stranded six Derry runners to keep the game within reach.

One of his biggest saves came in the fourth inning after the Trojans scored their first run and still had runners on first and third. Danka recorded two straight strikeouts to escape the inning.

“I don’t know how you describe the things he’s able to do because he’s not overpowering, but he’s so crafty,” Deer Lakes coach Josh Tysk said. “He does such a great job at it, though, and he hits locations. Him and Tyler (Gozzard) also have a great pitcher-catcher relationship.”

The Trojans have won nine of their past 10 games, and after winning their first section title in nearly 30 years, they are heading into the playoffs with an extra sense of confidence. But they aren’t going to rest on their laurels.

“This just gives us more confidence, but we still have to get back to work,” Flickinger said. “When you get into the playoffs, your pitching can still be good and it can still keep you in games, but we have to score more runs.”

After winning seven of their first eight games, the Lancers have lost four of their past six. Although his team hasn’t showcased the offense as it did earlier this season, Tysk knows the playoffs are a new season.

“We have a long way to go,” Tysk said. “This is the end of one season, basically, and the start of a new one. But this was a great playoff atmosphere type of game because it was for the section title.”

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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