Share This Page

Playoff-bound Yough hopes to finish regular-season strong

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 11:27 p.m.
Aaron Loughner | For the Tribune-Review
Murrysville's Justin Johnson pitches during the Westmoreland County Junior Legion final on July 19, 2012.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Yough pitcher C.J. Vargo delivers a pitch against Greensburg Salem on Monday, April 29, 2013, at Yough.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Yough's Luke Spisak rounds third base before scoring the game-winning run during a game against Greensburg Salem on Monday, April 29, 2013, at Yough.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Yough's Brad Bisko (10) warms up on deck during a game against Greensburg Salem on Monday, April 29, 2013, at Yough.

Yough's baseball team has some unfinished business, despite qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The Cougars (9-8, 7-4) sealed a postseason berth with an uninspired 4-2 victory Wednesday at Laurel Highlands.

“It was an ugly win,” coach Jeremy Zufall said. “Neither team played well, but Cody (Overly) pitched a solid five innings, allowing only one run.

“Our goal from the start was to win the WPIAL title. Our next goal was to win the section, and that's out of the picture. We don't care who we play. We don't want to be one and done.”

Zufall, also the school's wrestling coach, is in his first season at Yough after the school board opened the position held by longtime coach Terry Odelli after last season.

What Odelli had started, Zufall wants to finish. With a week left in the season, Yough is in the thick of the Section 3-AAA race.

The Cougars are in third place behind Indiana (12-3, 8-2) and Derry (8-5, 7-3).

Yough, which was 9-10 overall and 7-7 in Section 2-AAA last year, has one section game left, home against Mt. Pleasant (7-8, 4-5) on Monday.

“We want to finish strong,” Zufall said. “That's why the game with Mt. Pleasant (Monday) is important.”

Zufall has his team playing baseball with a wrestling mentality: not quitting when times are tough.

That has helped them win games with late-inning rallies. The biggest comeback win came against Mt. Pleasant on April 18. The Cougars trailed, 7-1, early but rallied for a 9-8 victory. Yough also rallied in the late innings to defeat Uniontown and Greensburg Salem.

“The Mt. Pleasant game was a test,” Zufall said. “We could have folded, but we found a way to win. The players started believing what we were teaching them. We knew we had some good players returning, but now they are starting to find their niche. We've overcome a lot adversity. We're starting to pay attention to details.”

And that work ethic comes from hours of practice.

“When we're not playing, we're practicing six days a week,” Zufall said. “They want to be at practice. They don't mind putting in the extra work. We don't want any excuses if we don't achieve our goals.”

Seniors Luke Spisak, Brad Bisko and Tucker Slatosky have been the leaders.

Bisko, who plays shortstop, leads the team in hitting with a .388 average, 19 hits, 12 RBI and five doubles. Slatosky, a center fielder, is hitting .340 with 18 hits, 11 runs and 11 stolen bases.

Spisak, who pitches and plays third base, is batting .383. He leads the team with 14 runs scored, three triples and 15 stolen bases. He also has three doubles and 10 RBI. On the mound, Spisak is 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA.

“Luke is our workhorse on the mound,” Zufall said. “He wants the ball.”

The other pitcher is junior C.J. Vargo, who is 4-0 with a 2.44 ERA.

And while the seniors are the leaders, Zufall said many players have contributed.

Overly, a junior infielder, is hitting .300 with 15 hits, 10 RBI and nine stolen bases, while junior outfielder Josh Sterner is batting. 308.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.