Thursday, April 29, 2021 | 19:02
In between a couple of coveted closures – one that is going on now – Derry baseball teams have discovered something about themselves: It can flatten out scores.
Derry (5-3, 3-2) jumped straight into section 3-3A, losing his first two-game series to Valley. But it was quick to recover, and took four wins in a row and four out of five to team up in the playoffs.
The Trojans have scored double-digit runs in every game they have won: 14-4 over Burrell, 10-6 vs. Pleasant, 12-7 and 15-0 over Ligonier Valley, and 11-1 against Homer-Center. That adds up to 63 races in eight games, 7.9 a game.
“We have really increased the pace and have found some rhythm,” said coach John Flickinger. “We had a slow start, I think mainly due to lack of games. We could not play our first couple of nonsection games. We then had to face a solid Valley team, and we lost a couple of good ball games and found ourselves in the hole.
“We have a strong group of senior managers who stepped up and said that this was not the way they wanted to see the season start, but there was no time to look back, rather to move on and get on a line. That was exactly what we did. ”
The offensive barrier is an honor for a patient approach and for recognizing situations. Big points teams can sometimes get caught up in swinging at everything but not Derry.
“We expected to be able to put races on the board,” said senior Josh Ulery. “I think our lineup has been solid, one to nine, every game, and different guys have stepped up.”
Ulery, a Pitt-Johnstown commitment, hits .652 with 14 RBIs and 10 runs.
The Trojans hit .368 as a team, putting pressure on the defense to satisfy Flickinger’s demands for such things.
“During this line, we’ve done the little things,” Flickinger said. “We have performed bunts, hit-and-runs, and we have run the bases extremely well. If you go up there and have no idea what role you have, you are selfish. We have come a long way with this group in recent seasons with cutting back on strikes and lazy fly balls. ”
Derry is seeking his first section title since 1992. The Trojans brought in eight lettermen from the 2019 team, 10 seniors, six juniors and a sophomore.
Ryan Bushey, a senior who will play on Mount Aloysius, hits .444 with 10 races and also courses.
Flickinger hopes the rest of the team’s key aspects capture the bat.
“As much as I love scoring all these races, I do not hate to give them up too,” said Flickinger. “I think our mugs have done a very good job, especially (Paul) Koontz and (Josh) Ulery. Bushey and (Nick) Detore give us a nice change of pace, and I’m waiting for our big guy, Ryan Hood, to start delivering what he’s capable of. If he gets started, it makes our staff quite solid and deep. ”
The 6-foot 4 hood has the potential to power the five-man staff. He finds his rhythm again after tearing down the lab room as a beginner in basketball in 2018.
“I would definitely say that the team chemistry we have is very important for our offense,” Hood said. “We have all played together since the small league. Everyone knows how to pick each other up. We all know how good a team we can be. ”
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