Lennox Pugh knew he made solid contact during a seventh-inning at-bat on Friday afternoon at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
The Pitt-Johnstown junior third baseman’s main concern was whether the ball would clear the brick wall in left-center field during a scoreless game against Gannon University.
“I was hoping it wasn’t going to hit the wall because it was kind of on a line,” said Pugh, whose walk-off, solo homer produced the only run in the first game of a PSAC Western Division doubleheader. “Once I saw it go past the light pole, I knew it was gone.”
Pugh came to the plate with one out in the final frame.
“Started off 3-0. Worked it back to 3-1,” Pugh said of his at-bat against Gannon’s Deven Judy. “I was just looking for something to drive, get my pitch. He threw a change-up. I hit it pretty good to left-center.
“That was the icing on the cake.”
Gannon University used 16 hits and capitalized on five Pitt-Johnstown errors to take Game 2 by a 15-2 score. The Mountain Cats are 16-13, with a 12-9 mark in the PSAC West. The Golden Knights are 14-13 with a 12-9 division record.
The Pugh homer in Game 1 complemented another stellar outing by Pitt-Johnstown senior right-hander Dylan Heid (7-1), who pitched his fourth shutout of the season with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Heid threw 73 pitches – 60 for strikes – in a three-hitter.
“I didn’t have all of my stuff today. My arm was a little bit sore from my last outing,” said Heid, who has 95 strikeouts in 531/3 innings this season. “Just coming in I was saying, ‘I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do. Figure it out. Get outs.’ That’s what I did. I made adjustments on pitches.”
Those adjustments enabled Heid to win a duel with Judy, who struck out seven and walked one while allowing four hits. The opener lasted only 1 hour, 34 minutes.
“Dylan’s command is so good,” Pitt-Johns- town coach Todd Williams said. “He didn’t have his best stuff today but he still had 11 strikeouts.
“He just has electric stuff.”
The veteran Mountain Cats coach also thought Pugh’s walk-off was electric.
“That was unbelievable,” Williams said. “We were getting ready to go to extra innings. Lennox came up with a big home run to end the game for us.”
In Game 2, Gannon’s 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-handed sophomore Ben Visnesky (2-0) pitched five strong innings, striking out five and walking two while allowing five hits. Visnesky pitched on the Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors team that won the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League championship in 2020.
“I had a little bit of UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) issues over the summer and it kind of came back (in the spring),” Visnesky said. “I’m feeling OK. I went into a closer spot and now I’m a starter again.
“I started against Clarion, IUP and Johns- town,” he added. “These are my first three starts of the year. I was mostly a closer at the beginning of the year.”
Gannon’s Ryan Kalbfus led off the top of the second with a solo homer to left. Pitt-Johns- town’s Owen McKeever’s sacrifice fly tied it at 1-all in the bottom half of the inning.
Brandon Weatherholt’s three-run homer put the Golden Knights back in front in the third, and a bases loaded walk by Pitt-Johnstown starter Joel Colledge (3-4) to Alex Baldi in the fourth made it 5-1.
“It’s awesome to have a lead,” Visnesky said.
“It always is. They’ve been hitting better than they had been in the beginning of the season.
“We’ve just got to keep it going.”
The Golden Knights added five more in the fifth and two in the sixth to push the margin to 12-1.
Colin Pasone and McKeever drove in UPJ’s runs, and Tyler Treese and Josh Reynolds each doubled for the Mountain Cats.
The teams will meet again for a doubleheader on Saturday at Gannon University.
“We have to get on the bus at 7:30 in the morning, drive 31/2 hours to get there, play two and we have to win them,” Williams said. “We’re all jammed up in there. These games are important.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.