Plum Senior, Junior Legion teams set for regional tournaments
The Plum Senior and Youth American Legion baseball teams are on a mission for a regional sweep.
The Senior squad, the Allegheny South playoff champion, kicks off the Region 6 tournament Friday at Blackhawk’s Chippewa Park, while the Plum Youth team, co-champion of the Westmoreland County league with Uniontown, begins the PA Youth Legion Baseball West Regional on Saturday in Homer City, Indiana County.
Plum Senior coach Greg Foster said his players are confident heading into the regional tournament after clinching a spot in the field with a 3-1 victory over Monroeville in the Allegheny South title game Monday at Gateway.
“They are really excited for this opportunity,” Foster said. “It’s going to be a great challenge. They are loose and ready to play.”
Plum starts the eight-team double-elimination tournament, which also features teams from the Beaver and Fayette county leagues, at 11:30 a.m. Friday against Connellsville.
Friday’s other first-round matchups have Beaver County champion Hopewell against South Allegheny (8:30 a.m.), Uniontown against Quaker Valley (2:30 p.m.) and host Blackhawk against Belle Vernon (5:30).
Bethel Park, the Allegheny South regular-season champ, had earned an automatic bid to the Region 6 tournament, but a player-availability issue at the time of entry forced them to withdraw. Monroeville was not able to compete for the same reason, so South Allegheny, an Allegheny South playoff semifinalist, got the nod.
A win Friday puts Plum in a winner’s bracket game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. A loss means an 11:30 a.m. start in an elimination game.
The winners’ and losers’ bracket finals are set for Monday with the championship game at 2 p.m. Tuesday. A second game, if needed, will be at 5. Only the winning team advances to states July 27-31 at Showers Field in DuBois.
With the potential for up to six games in five days, Foster said Plum’s deep pitching staff, led by Logan Schlegel, Devin Ranegar, Brody Simmons and Jared Hoener, could be a difference maker.
Plum Youth Legion coach Bill Rumcik also sees the possibility of a successful regional run for his team with several capable arms on the staff.
He said Christian Brown, who gave up just two hits and three earned runs over five innings of the Westmoreland County title game against Uniontown last Friday, will get the start in Plum’s opener against Corry Post 365 at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Brady Dojonovic, Rumcik said, should get the start for Plum in Sunday’s contest. Dojonovic and Brown are a combined 7-0 this season.
“You need a deep pitching staff in these playoff tournaments,” Rumcik said. “We have to play well in all three phases (pitching, hitting, defense). I have a lot of confidence in this team.”
Darkness halted the Westmoreland title game tied 7-7 after eight innings. The contest was not continued, and Plum won a coin toss to determine the No. 1 seed from the league.
“We knew we were both going to regionals, so we decided not to push the issue,” Rumcik said.
The top three teams from the regional tournament advance to the Youth Legion State Championship July 27-31 in Homer City.
Plum, 18-3-1 overall, is guaranteed at least third place and a spot at states by winning the first two games.
Plum and Monroeville finished tied for first in the Westmoreland County league’s North Division with 14-2 records, but Monroeville beat Plum twice to earn the No. 1 seed for the North playoffs.
The teams met again in a best-of-three series for the North title. This time, Plum prevailed to advance to the matchup with Uniontown, the South champ.
“A goal from the start was to make it to regionals and compete for a spot at states,” Rumcik said. “We’ve had a great season so far, but we’re not done. We still have work to do.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, [email protected] or via Twitter .