Young Yough baseball team has grown up fast this season

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Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 6:28 PM


Yough baseball coach Craig Spisak called his team young and inexperienced when the 2021 season began.

After plodding through the regular season, which included some interruptions and quarantines because of covid-19, Spisak has changed that from inexperienced to experienced.

Yough clinched second place in Section 4-3A on Tuesday by sweeping a doubleheader from Southmoreland to finish section play at 6-4, three games behind first-place McGuffey (9-1).

Now the Cougars (6-7) eye a return to the playoffs.

Yough reached the Class 4A semifinals in 2019, and five players from that team are playing key roles in 2021. The 2020 season was canceled because of covid-19.

After starting the season 1-5, the Cougars won five of six games to even their record. They dropped a 12-3 nonsection decision to South Park on Wednesday.

“It was a good test for our younger pitchers,” Spisak said after the Southmoreland sweep. “I started some young pitchers and got them a taste of varsity action.

“We’ve come a long way since the start of the season. We didn’t look good and made a lot of mistakes in our two scrimmages (Norwin and Latrobe) and losses to Upper St. Clair and Mt. Pleasant. We’re actually hitting the ball a lot better, and we’re pitching well. I’m eager to see how we’ll do in the playoffs.”

Seniors Vinny Martin, Sean Royer, Ryan Lubovinsky and Logan Cosharek and junior Allen Novacek were on the 2019 squad. Martin started in the outfield and as a designated hitter, Royer saw action as a relief pitcher and Cosharek as a runner.

Even though the high school season was canceled in 2020, Yough was able to play American Legion ball in the summer. The Cougars qualified for the regional tournament and finished third.

Spisak said the experience was beneficial.

“We had a lot of players who got a lot of reps,” he said. “Vinny and Sean pitched a ton of innings.”

But despite playing in the summer and the fall, Yough began the spring as green as its uniform color.

“It took the players a few games to get started,” Spisak said. “They told me they had a different mindset for spring ball. Some of them thought differently. There was more pressure. Now they’re playing well.”

Yough, like many other teams in the WPIAL, had to deal with the coronavirus interruptions. Spisak said he hasn’t had a full roster since the second game of the season.

Different players have been forced to quarantine because they were exposed to someone who had covid-19 or had it themselves.

Spisak said there is a chance his team will be a full strength when the playoffs begin next week.

Sophomore Jake Sampson was the team’s leading hitter, batting more than .450. Martin, Royer and Cosharek also were hitting well.

Martin’s return to the hill was encouraging. Earlier in the season he shutout Brownsville but then pitched sparingly while nursing a sore shoulder.

He pitched in relief and picked up the win against Southmoreland and then asked his coach to start the second game.

“He looked sharp,” Spisak said. “We limited him to 55 pitches in the two games. With Vinny and Sean, that gives us a nice one-two punch.”

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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