Guido: A-K Valley owns history against MLB 1st-round picks
Thursday looks to be the big day for Plum's Alex Kirilloff.
The recent graduate is expected to go in the first round of Thursday's Major League Baseball Draft. Internet sites have him going anywhere from 12th to 19th overall.
If that's the case, he will become the sixth player from a WPIAL school to go in the first round since the draft was instituted in 1965.
Before that, a young player could sign with any team, much like a player outside the United States can do now.
If Kirilloff, who attended Cheswick Christian Academy as a youngster, is picked in the first round, he will join an exclusive club that includes Knoch's Scot Thompson, New Brighton's Terry Francona, Elizabeth Forward's Brian Holton, Gateway's Tim Conroy and, of course, Pine-Richland's Neil Walker.
What is interesting about Thompson's selection is that Knoch did not sponsor a baseball team at the time. Thompson, who later coached his alma mater when baseball came along in the 1990s, made his mark with the Saxonburg American Legion program and other, non-scholastic outfits.
Thompson later played for the Cubs and the Expos.
To illustrate how strong Springdale's baseball team was in 1976, the Dynamos faced future first-round picks in consecutive games.
In the WPIAL semifinals, Springdale handed Francona the only pitching loss of his high school career. In the finals, the Dynamos came within an out of defeating Holton.
Conroy and Walker played against Alle-Kiski Valley team's in high school. Walker, as a freshman in 2001, hit what is likely one of the longest home runs at Laura Doerr Park against Knoch. His towering drive landed near a picnic pavilion beyond the left-field fence.
We probably won't hear much about Kirilloff over the next several years as he works his way through the minor leagues.
That's how the baseball draft works, unlike the NFL and NBA drafts where a player picked is ready to go.
Scoring on a walk
One of the age-old questions in baseball and softball is how many different ways a runner can score from third base with less than two outs.
Among them — a base hit, an error, a balk, a wild pitch, sacrifice fly, etc.
But how about a walk?
In Friday's WPIAL Class A final between West Greene and Chartiers-Houston, Bailey Bennington was on at third with one out and no other West Greene runners on base.
When Lexie Mooney walked, she rounded first base and headed quickly to second. The Chartiers-Houston pitcher threw her out at second while Bennington waltzed home with a run.
It is a wonder more teams don't do that.
West Greene practices it.
“We work on that play all the time, both offensively, and defending it,” West Greene coach Bill Simms said. “When we went to three balls, we put the signal over there that if there was a ball four, we would try it.”
The Prince effect
Some might recall the effect Prince, who died in April, had early in his career on a local basketball playoff team.
When Prince made his second appearance at Civic Arena on March 1, 1983, three Valley starters skipped practice and went to the Prince concert.
Then-Vikings coach Dan O'Connor had no choice but to suspend the players for the next night's WPIAL playoff game against McKeesport. O'Connor was particularly incensed the players could have practiced in the afternoon, then gone to the concert.
Without the players, Valley led 16-15 at the end of the first quarter. But the eventual WPIAL champion Tigers outscored Valley, 29-10, in the second quarter and rolled to an 87-73 win.
Billy Leonard set a McKeesport scoring record with 41 points, and Prince was on his way to superstardom.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.