Derry baseball team holding out hope for playoff berth
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Over the course of a season, some losses hurt more than others.
For the Derry baseball team, last Thursday's 7-6 defeat at Mt. Pleasant hurt — a lot.
The Trojans led 6-2 and needed three outs to get the win, but Mt. Pleasant managed to score five runs in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off victory — the Vikings' first in the section this season.
“Everything went right for them, and everything went wrong for us,” Derry coach John Flickinger said.
With the season quickly coming to a close, victories are at a premium for the Trojans as they battle for a postseason berth in Section 2-AAA.
The loss to Mt. Pleasant left Derry at 4-5 in section play and in fourth place in the standings behind Laurel Highlands, Indiana and Uniontown at the start of the week.
The top three teams in each section will qualify for the postseason.
The Trojans entered this week needing wins in all three of their remaining section games to have a shot at the WPIAL playoffs.
Flickinger held a team meeting last Friday to shift focus away from the Mt. Pleasant loss and toward the challenges that lie ahead in the season's final week.
“I told them we still have a legitimate shot at the playoffs,” Flickinger said. “Everything is still up in the air.
“These kids are still hungry. They'll be OK.”
The day before the Mt. Pleasant loss, Derry posted a 6-1 win over Yough in a pivotal section home game.
The good news heading into the season's final days, according to Flickinger, is that his team is playing what he sees as its best baseball late in the season.
“I've seen us struggle offensively early in the season and drop a couple of games,” Flickinger said. “It's the opposite of last year when we started out so strong.
“We're playing great baseball. We're at our strongest point right now.”
Senior Joe Kelly, who was Derry's No. 2 starter at the outset of the 2014 campaign, began this week with a 5-0 record. He'll be counted on to log some big innings down the stretch.
“He's not flashy,” Flickinger said of his ace. “He just gets outs.”
Kelly, who has one complete game to his credit, owns a 3.27 ERA and has held the opposition to a .241 batting average.
The Trojans' offense has been paced by senior Luke Ridilla. His .500 batting average entering play this week was the highest on the team. He also leads the team in hits, with 18, and has shown good speed on the base paths, stealing a team-high 14 bases without being caught.
Ridilla and fellow seniors Zack Zimmerman and Johnny Panizzi have done the majority of the scoring for Derry. The trio entered this week having scored 14 runs apiece.
Junior Cameron Gerhard leads the team in RBIs with 16.
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
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.