Plum races past Baldwin for win in section opener
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Plum fired an opening shot in its quest for another section championship on Monday afternoon as it began Section 2-AAAA play with a 10-2 victory over Baldwin at Plum High School.
Mustangs head coach Carl Vollmer said before the season started that he didn't know much about the Highlanders, Plum's new section foe this spring, but he wanted his players to take the field and play they way they are capable and see what unfolded.
What unfolded was another strong hitting and pitching combination that led the Mustangs to its sixth win of the season in seven games.
Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Franklin Regional also won their section openers on Monday.
The Vikings topped Gateway, 5-1, while the Panthers downed McKeesport, 6-5.
Plum suffered its first loss of the season on April 3 — a 10-8 decision at Shaler.
The Mustangs rebounded Friday with a 5-1 victory over Mt. Lebanon in a nonsection game that lasted nine innings.
On Monday, Plum didn't waste any time putting Baldwin behind the 8-ball, as it scored twice in the first to take a 2-0 lead.
The Mustangs scored at least one run in each of the first five innings, including three in the bottom of the fifth to answer a two-spot put up by the Highlanders in the top of the frame.
Eight Plum batters had at least one hit, and sophomore Brian Albert topped the list with a 3-for-3 day at the plate in the team's 13-hit attack.
Albert also was a terror on the base paths with a pair of stolen bases and three runs scored.
Freshman Alex Kiriloff added two hits — both doubles — and three runs batted in, while senior Austin O'Block and junior Nick Stotler both doubled and singled.
Senior David Cross got the pitching call on Monday, and he worked six innings.
He hit two batters and walked three, but he surrendered only three hits and two earned runs to pick up the victory.
Fellow senior Kyle Dawson came on to work the seventh. He gave up one hit, but didn't allow a run in his one inning on the mound.
When Plum players and coaches look back on this season, Friday's 5-1 nonsection win over Mt. Lebanon will no doubt stand out.
The teams played to a 1-1 tie through eight innings, but in the top of the ninth, the Mustangs loaded the bases.
Stotler then came up and smacked a bases-clearing double to give Plum a 4-1 advantage.
It was his only hit in four at bats in the game.
Plum then tacked on an insurance run to set the final.
Senior Zac Manuppelli was on target again as he scattered three hits over seven innings and struck out 12. Mt. Lebanon's third-inning run was unearned because of a Plum error.
Kiriloff worked the final two innings and picked up the win. He faced six batters and gave up no hits while striking out two and walking one.
In addition to Stotler's big hit, O'Block and junior Mike Maleski both finished with a pair of singles.
Maleski and Albert each drove in a run.
Kiriloff got on base and scored Plum's first run in the sixth inning, and he also scored one of the four Mustangs runs in the ninth.
Plum was scheduled to face Gateway on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Gateway High School, and the section contest was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.
The Mustangs entertain Central Catholic on Friday in a key early-season section battle. The game at Plum High School is set for a 4 p.m. start.
Plum then hosts McKeesport in a section game on Monday at 4 p.m.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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