No. 5 Greensburg Salem slugs past No. 2 Yough in Section 1-4A

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 9:09 PM


With each towering drive that carried deep — and there were a bunch of them that gave Yough’s outfielders a guided tour of the home field dimensions at Greensburg Salem — the host Golden Lions watched an early deficit gradually shrink in their rear-view mirror.

“We were raking,” Greensburg Salem coach Bill Wisniewski said.

Once the Golden Lions had the lead, they kept the scorching, on-the-barrel hits coming on the way to an 11-6 victory Wednesday in a matchup of the top two teams in Section 1-4A.

Reid Amundson, Brayden Merichko, Matt Wicker and Jack Oberdorf had two hits apiece, and Aaren Putt launched a three-run homer for No. 5 Greensburg Salem (11-2, 7-2), which earned a season split with the No. 2 Cougars (10-5, 8-2) and moved within a half-game of first place.

“That’s been our M.O.,” Wisniewski said. “We hit the ball, and each guy follows the next.”

The Golden Lions, who are averaging close to 10 runs a game, are back in the chase for their first section title since 2012. Yough took a step back after nearing its first section crown since ’16.

Greensburg Salem knew it wouldn’t face Yough ace Jarett Bach, a Pitt recruit who pitched Tuesday at Knoch. And the Golden Lions knew they had their own ace going in Wicker.

Still, they had to dig out of an early hole and rely on hot bats.

With one swing, Yough’s Noah Manns silenced a considerable home crowd with a grand slam to left-center in the top of the second. Then, an error allowed a run to score in the third to give the Cougars a 5-0 lead.

“That can be very deflating for a team,” Wisniewski said. “But as soon as they came in the dugout it was, cut it in half, get guys on, let’s do what we do. It’s not what the other team has; it’s what we do. If we play to our potential we can play with anyone.”

With a five-run third, the Golden Lions quickly tied it.

Putt launched a rope down the right-field line that stayed just inside the foul pole to make it 5-3.

Oberdorf, a Seton Hill recruit, followed with a double off the fence in center before Wicker helped his cause with a run-scoring triple that landed at the base of the fence.

Amundson’s hard-hit single made it 5-5.

“Anybody can beat anyone, any day, in this section,” Wisnewski said. “We knew they had their third or fourth guy throwing against us which, sometimes, can hurt us, because we’re not used to soft, off-speed and we have to change our approach a little but. But the kids adjusted as the game went on.”

Hayden Teska singled to start the fourth for the Lions, and Merichko followed his teammates’ lead with a drive to deep left-center. The double scored pinch runner Trent Stevens, and Greensburg Salem had a 6-5 edge.

The rally chased Yough starter Steve Manon, and he was replaced by Sean Royer.

The Golden Lions finished with 11 hits, five for extra bases.

“We were down for a little bit, and then we came as a team and really pounded the ball,” Amundson said. “We put a five-spot up that inning and we just bounced back. Coach says get one guy on, and the next guy will do the next.”

Amundson said it didn’t matter who was the opposing pitcher.

“Even if (Bach) did pitch, we were still going to hit the ball like we did today,” said Amundson, who said he plans to play at Pitt-Johnstown. “One guy isn’t going to bring us down. We play as a team.”

One round through the lineup, Greensburg Salem players said, was all they needed to rack up hits against Manon.

“The first time through (the order), they had us off-balance,” Oberdorf said. “We got a better feel for what he was throwing. That’s our team. That’s what we do.”

Bach, who had two hits, was in agreement.

“I think they were more patient the second time through the order and got into hitter’s counts and got good contact, so credit to them,” Bach said. “And I think we did a good job against Wicker. This was the second time we saw him this year, and we did a lot better this time so that’s encouraging.”

Another five-run explosion gave the Lions plenty of breathing room. Oberdorf led off the fifth with a single to right and Wicker reached on an error. That set the table for Amundson, who drove a double to the base of the right-center field fence to score Oberdorf.

Sweeney teed up next for a two-run triple that made it 9-5.

“It’s one thing to coach, it’s another thing for them to apply it,” Wisniewski said. “That’s what this team is so good at. They’re great kids, coachable kids. They apply what we’re saying, and that’s why we’ve had a lot of success this year.”

Four more batters came up to face another relief pitcher, Nate Wilkins.

An error allowed Sweeney to score, and Sage Parsley’s fielder’s choice brought around Teska to help the Lions take an 11-5 advantage into the sixth.

Yough, which had won three in a row, loaded the bases in the seventh against Oberdorf, who relieved Wicker, as Cody Ulander, Ray Halahurich and Bach all singled. Ulander went 2 for 4.

Manon’s sacrifice fly scored Ulander. But Oberdorf worked out of the jam, despite a walk to reload the bases with one out. He struck out Vince Martin and got Caden Kastonis to ground out to finish it.

Manon added a double.

“We hit earlier in the season like that,” Wisniewski said. “Everybody goes through the ups and downs, depending upon what pitcher is throwing that day and what we got, but today was like we were hitting the ball earlier in the year.”

Wicker allowed six hits in six innings to earn the win.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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