North Allegheny baseball blanks Plum to reach semifinals
Plum already had taken down a higher seed in this year's WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.
But the No. 10-seeded Mustangs couldn't repeat the feat Wednesday.
No. 2 seed North Allegheny used timely hitting and strong pitching from junior Mitch Machi to claim a 5-0 win at Shaler's Matulevic Field.
The Tigers (18-4) will play Hempfield in the semifinals Tuesday.
Despite the tough end to the season, Plum coach Carl Vollmer said he was pleased with the team's effort.
“I don't think the score is indicative of the way the game went,” Vollmer said. “They were able to pull away at the end. But our guys fought hard, and I'm proud of them.”
North Allegheny got all the runs it would need in the top of the first. Brandon Bergstrom hit a leadoff single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a bunt down the third-base line by James Meeker and scored on a grounder by Matt Waugaman.
Plum freshman starter Alex Kiriloff held the Tigers off the board over the next three innings, and the Mustangs had several strong scoring chances.
Plum (15-7) loaded the bases with no outs in the second. Freshman Ethan Winesburgh led off with an infield single, and sophomore Brian Albert and senior Tyler Podvasnik followed with bunt singles.
But junior catcher Eric Bellasario popped up to first, and North Allegheny turned an inning-ending double play when senior Andrew Dawson's bunt attempt was caught by Machi, who doubled off Winesburgh at third to end the Mustangs' rally.
Junior Zach Sansonetti reached on a fielder's choice with one out in the third inning and advanced to third on junior Nick Stotler's single. However, Sansonetti was picked off third after Winesburgh failed to make contact on a bunt attempt.
Winesburgh walked to lead off the third inning and moved to third on a pair of sacrifice bunts but was left stranded.
Sansonetti doubled, and Kiriloff singled with two outs in the fifth, but Stotler hit a line drive at Tigers third baseman Meeker for the third out.
“We put ourselves in good position in a couple of innings. We had opportunities and just couldn't come through,” Vollmer said.
“With the bunting, we hadn't had a ton of offensive success lately, so we had to try to make something happen. We had been successful with our bunting, but we just weren't able to complete the job a couple of times.”
In the fifth, Waugaman doubled and scored a run for a 2-0 North Allegheny lead. The Tigers added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
Kiriloff pitched six innings and gave up three runs, two of which were earned. He gave up eight hits, walked three and struck out one.
Winesburgh worked the seventh and surrendered a hit and two unearned runs. Plum committed three errors, and North Allegheny went without an error.
“Alex did a great job today,” Vollmer said. “He's only a ninth-grader. We threw two ninth-graders today.”
Michael Love is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.