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VND notebook: Plum senior shows off power

| Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, 11:48 p.m.
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Alex Kirilloff is all smiles after winning the home run derby at the Perfect Game All-Star Classic on on Aug. 16, 2015 in San Diego, Calif.

When Alex Kirilloff stopped to admire his handiwork, he wasn't all that surprised. Not after he hit six straight towering home runs out of San Diego's Petco Park last Sunday.

Not after he was given the trophy for winning the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby.

“Not at all,” said Kirilloff, an incoming senior at Plum. “I have hit a lot of home runs in batting practice in my life. I am not a huge home-run hitter in games, though.”

It's like the kid who wows the crowd with acrobatic dunks in warmups but rarely throws one down in a game.

“Something like that,” Kirilloff said. “But I am working to change that and make the transition.”

The wooden-bat derby was part of the Perfect Game showcase that also included an all-star game with dozens of major league scouts in attendance.

“That was the most gratifying part,” Kirilloff said of the derby, where he held off Blake Rutherford of Simi Valley, Calif., 12-11, in the finals. “The dimensions weren't a huge change to what I am used to. It was pretty nice to see the ball fly out of a major league ballpark, though.”

Kirilloff was not deterred by the dozens of pro scouts. He is starting to get used to the extra eyes watching his every move at tryouts and showcases.

“It starts to become natural,” he said. “You get used to it. You just have to focus.”

Perfect Game ranks Kirilloff as the No. 2 first baseman in the country in his class. His power has caught the attention of colleges from across the country. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, who hits and throws from the left side, verbally committed to Liberty as a sophomore, but Stanford still offered a scholarship.

Other schools also have inquired, including Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina. But the interest was anything but mutual.

“I am sticking to Liberty. It was a no-brainer for me,” Kirilloff said. “There is no reason to go anywhere else.”

Kirilloff knows his life could change in June during the MLB Draft. He already has a firm spot on the radar, and the home-run derby win boosted his stock even more.

The showcases not only have provided the first baseman a stage on which to perform, but also a teaching tool for the intricacies of the draft.

“They do a really good job of educating us on the whole draft process,” Kirilloff said. “There are advisors that offer a lot of help.”

College baseball is on Kirilloff's mind as much as the pros, but both are months away for now.

“We'll see how it plays out,” he said. “It's in God's hands. I can only control what I can control.”

In the all-star game, Kirilloff scored the game's first run. In the fifth inning of a scoreless game, he delivered a single, went to second on a wild pitch and stole third before sliding safely into home on another wild pitch.

His East team beat the West, 3-1.

Kirilloff is scheduled to be in the World Wood Bat Association's Northeast Qualifier tournament Aug. 28 in Vineland, N.J.

The event serves as a qualifier for the WWBA World Championship in late October in Jupiter, Fla.

Thimons to be honored

Freeport senior football standout Logan Thimons already has received a number of preseason accolades, but he'll add another Sunday when former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch recognizes the West Virginia linebacker recruit as one of his “Best of the Batch” players for 2015.

The Steelers play Green Bay at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

Scrimmages to watch

WPIAL football teams will end the first week of training camps with their first scrimmages 10 a.m. on Saturday. Some notable ones include Knoch traveling to Kiski Area, Highlands going to Hopewell, Freeport at Hampton and Riverview traveling to Deer Lakes.

Armstrong hosts Sharon in its first scrimmage.

Two local teams are in tri-scrimmages. Valley and Summit Academy play at Jeannette, while Leechburg and West Shamokin are at Union-Rimersburg.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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