Plum Junior Legion confident entering playoffs
Plum’s Junior Legion baseball team prepped for the playoffs in fine fashion.
The Junior Mustangs blanked Riverview, 16-0, and Lower Burrell, 9-0, last week to end the Westmoreland County Youth Legion regular season with a 14-2 record.
Plum and Monroeville finished with identical records atop the North Division, but Monroeville claimed the title because of its two wins against Plum.
“Our team is well-balanced offensively and defensively, and 11 of the 18 players pitched during the regular season,” coach Bill Rumcik said. “The team plays together as a cohesive unit, and the only goal of the players is to help each other win. Every player will do whatever is necessary to help the team reach our goal of making the state playoff tournament.
“The coaching staff — Dan Macioce, Mike Norcutt, Mike Giarrusso and myself — knew we had a talented team returning from last season, so we did set the bar high on expectations for 2019. The team is dedicated and enjoys being together for practices and games. Many of the players have been together since T-ball, at age 5 and 6, and have lifelong friendships. And the coaching staff has worked together since 2007.”
Plum hit .361 as a team, outscored opponents 156-39 margin and averaging 9.8 runs per game.
The pitching staff compiled a 1.49 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and posted three shutouts.
Team leaders include Nick Chirumbolo (OF/P/1B), Jimmy Rumcik (OF/P/1B) and Frankie Macioce (C/1B/OF) offensively, plus Silvio Ionadi (SS/P) defensively.
“This season, we went in knowing that we had the potential to do pretty well,” Chirumbolo said. “Our expectations were to make playoffs because we fell short last year, and then go from there. Our strengths are definitely our bond as a team and our ability to play together. Our pitching and offense have been our core attributes to our successful season.”
Rumcik batted .532 with 25 hits in 47 at-bats, followed by Chirumbolo at .500 (21 for 42) and Macioce at .435 (20 for 46).
Christian Brown (P/3B) and Brady Dojonovic (P/3B) anchored the pitching staff. They were expected to start the Junior Mustangs’ first two playoff games.
Other top players include Caden Norcutt (P/2B/3B), Colin Solinski (1B/P), Alex Miller (OF), Anthony Carlisano (CF/2B), Nick Lamia (OF), Logan Kemmerer (2B/3B) and Justin Giarrusso (P/2B/3B).
Kemmerer (.381), Norcutt (.379), Giarrusso (.350), Lamia (.348), Carlisano (.345) and Brown (.313) all hit .300 or better. Kemmerer and Norcutt have been out with injuries.
During the regular season, Rumcik led the team in plate appearances (60), hits (25), singles (19), runs (19) and slugging percentage (.660). Chirumbolo collected seven doubles and 18 RBIs. Chirumbolo and Solinski each homered.
Jake George (OF), Rocco Schneiderlochner (2B/OF), Dylan Young (P/OF), Hayden Shelatz (P/OF/1B) and David Westrick (OF/3B) round out the squad.
“The best strength of the team, in my opinion, is its selflessness,” Bill Rumcik said. “Every player will do whatever is necessary to help win every time we take the field.
“The players and coaches all enjoy playing together. We have a strong team chemistry and camaraderie. Our team has more fun in the dugout sometimes than playing the games,coaches included.”
All the players attend Plum except Chirumbolo and Miller, who attend Central Catholic and Greensburg Central Catholic, respectively.
“The future of Plum varsity baseball looks bright to return to the playoffs and compete for WPIAL and state championships under Carl Vollmer,” coach Rumcik said.
The Junior Mustangs have high hopes for the postseason.
“Our team goal is to advance to the state tournament and win the championship,” coach Rumcik said. ”We lost both (regular season) games to Monroeville but hope to meet them in the playoffs.”
Chirumbolo, a third-year player, expects to have an extended playoff run.
WCYL playoffs were scheduled to start July 5.
“The expectations are to try to get to the championship and make it to regionals and go as far as we can,” Chirumbolo said. “Monroeville will be the team to beat come playoff time.
“Two years ago, which was my first year on the Junior Legion team, we went to regionals, and last year we unfortunately did not make the playoffs. But this year seems to be the year that we could go far.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.