Derry’s bats come alive in Class 3A win over Mt. Pleasant

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | 10:20 PM


First-year Derry coach Doug Kelly avoided getting drenched with water after his first WPIAL playoff win.

He said his players made it too obvious what they were trying to do.

His players showed Mt. Pleasant they could obviously hit.

Derry (8-10) pounded out 19 hits off four Mt. Pleasant pitchers and rolled to a 16-5 victory in a WPIAL Class 3A preliminary round game. The Trojans face No. 2 Avonworth on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.

Senior centerfielder Antonio Hauser drove in five runs on a single, double and triple, and junior second baseman Brady Angus and junior first baseman Colin Bush each drove in three runs as the Trojans exploded for 11 runs in the final two innings after Mt. Pleasant rallied to tie the score 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth.

“Our entire lineup can hit from top to bottom,” Kelly said. “We’ve been making solid contact all year. We kept plugging and they kept falling. We’ve just had a few bad innings that cost us.”

Derry jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. Houser drove in two in the first inning on a double and Angus and freshman Cason Long had RBI hits in the second inning.

“We started out hot out of the gate,” Hauser said. “Got a little bit down in the middle of the game, but we battled back and settled down for once when it really mattered.”

Mt. Pleasant (9-10) chipped away with a run in the third inning and two in the fourth to trim the lead to 4-3.

Derry tacked on a run on Bush’s sacrifice fly in the fifth, but the Vikings tied the score on a double by sophomore Connor Drzal and an RBI triple by junior Luke Nicotera, then Nicotera stole home on a play at first.

Then a simple single turned into disaster for the Vikings and opened up the floodgates for the Trojans. With one out, sophomore John Wasnick singled and ended up on third when the Vikings committed two errors.

Wasnick scored on a groundout by Angus for the second out. But Derry wasn’t done.

Long singled, Ashton Beighley followed with a hit, and Hauser ripped a two-run triple. He scored on Bush’s single to make it 9-5.

“We did a good job battling back, but then we committed those errors,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Firmstone said. “In the playoffs, you can’t make those sort of mistakes.

“Also, Derry pounded the ball. Even their outs were hard hit. We’re a young team that has to learn how to play with some grit. We’re going to get better.”

Derry tacked on seven runs in the seventh inning on five hits. Every batter in the Derry lineup had at least one hit.

“We just have to keep the intensity up,” Kelly said. “We’ve been having good practices.”

After allowing two runs in the first inning, the Vikings loaded the bases on singles by Ryan McKula, Cole Chatfield and Nicotera. But Derry starter Nate Papuga struck out Jacob Kitz to end the threat.

Nicotera ended up with three hits for the Vikings.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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