Sweet victory for Mt. Pleasant baseball, Secosky

Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 9:05 PM

Fresh off an extra-inning win, Mike Secosky took a bite out of a chocolate chip cookie loaded with extra M&Ms.

Eager to grant an interview request, he shoved the half-eaten treat neatly into the back pocket of his game pants. It peeked out like a batting glove.

“I’ll eat it later,” he mumbled, chewing a mouthful and flashing a grin.

It was the second sacrifice the Mt. Pleasant senior made Thursday.

Secosky gave the Vikings a 6-5 walk-off win with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left in the bottom of the ninth inning, sealing a season sweep of rival Derry. The flyout scored Asher O’Connor to keep Mt. Pleasant in the thick of the playoff chase in Section 1-4A.

The game was one of the few played in the WPIAL on another rainy afternoon, and the Vikings (6-6, 4-4) were glad it happened. A slightly muddy infield and soggy outfield didn’t stop them from hosting — or holding off the Trojans (4-6, 3-5), who could not extend their winning streak to three.

“We were hitting the ball hard, right at them sometimes, but I had a feeling that we were ready to go,” Secosky said. “The whole game, I had been pushing everything to the right side, and I was really trying to get under one. I had been hitting a lot on the ground, which is what we wanted to do. But that time it needed to be in the there.”

Derry left 12 runners on base and couldn’t get a win for starting righthander Josh Ulery, who pitched 7 1/3 innings and threw just 76 pitches before giving way to Zack Karaschak.

After Mt. Pleasant left two baserunners stranded in the eighth, O’Connor singled to start the ninth. Trevor Mason bunted him over, Joe Shrum beat out a single and Pete Billey was walked intentionally to set the table for Secosky.

“Before he went up there, I was just asking him to put the ball,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Firmstone said. “I knew the infield was going to be in. Even a little chili-dipper behind them we were going to score a run. We worked on situational hitting. We needed something over the infield in front of the outfield, or deep enough that we can get a run in. I would have liked for it to be a little deeper but it worked out.”

Mt. Pleasant had 12 hits.

Aaron Alakson doubled twice for the Vikings, and O’Connor and Cody Surma had two hits apiece, including a two-run single for Surma. Alakson, Regis Sofranko and Surma are freshmen.

Mt. Pleasant had a 5-1 lead after two innings, but Derry rallied to tie in the fifth.

A scratchy start saw a number of wild pitches and walks before the teams settled in. Derry left the bases loaded in the third and sixth, the latter being the final time it had a player in scoring position.

“You can’t win games when you leave that many on,” Derry coach John Flickinger said. “Our pitchers do a good enough job, but we didn’t give Josh the support he needed.”

Back-to-back RBIs from O’Connor and Mason made it 5-1, but the Trojans pocketed some momentum after an inning-ending double play by Ryan Bushey. In the top of the third, Austin Siko knocked in a run with a bases-loaded single, and Ryan Hood walked to cut the lead to 5-3.

The Vikings ended that rally with a 4-6-3 double play, but Derry kept pushing in the fifth.

Ulery doubled to deep center and advanced to third on a throw. Karaschak’s groundout scored Ulery to make it 5-4, and Donte Klopchar’s two-out sacrifice fly tied it.

“Derry is a very scrappy team,” Firmstone said. “They are going to keep on coming. Defensively, I thought we played pretty well. You just can’t take teams lightly.”

Ulery, Siko, Brayden Mickinac and Hood all had two hits for Derry, which was coming off a 7-6 win over No. 3 Knoch.

Mt. Pleasant had dropped four of five before the win.

“We started off good and dropped off a little bit,” Secosky said. “Now, picking up the second half of the season and we’re hoping to sweep the rest of the way out.”

Mt. Pleasant, moved to Class 4A two years after playing in the WPIAL 3A championship, won the first meeting, 9-5. It was a 2-1 game going into the final inning before the Vikings erupted for eight runs in the seventh.

“Against Derry, in all sports, it’s always a good matchup,” Secosky said.

Mt. Pleasant used four pitchers: Surma, Sofranko, Jonas King and John Wagner.

The win went to Wagner, who entered the eighth and did not allow a hit.

Derry is scheduled to play Richland on Friday in the Homer-Center Wildcat Classic.

“We’re a young team,” Flickinger said. “We just couldn’t get big hits today. We booted the ball a couple times early, which didn’t help. We didn’t lose because of a lack of effort. Our kids played hard.”

Mt. Pleasant plays at No. 2 Yough Monday.

Three of the Tribune-Review’s top five-ranked teams in 4A are from Section 1. Greensburg Salem is No. 4.

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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