Plum Legion starts season 6-1 with playoffs fast approaching
Michael Anderson enjoyed a busy freshman season this spring as a center fielder on the John Carroll baseball team.
He played in all 38 games, recorded 36 starts and batted .252 with 19 RBIs and 19 runs scored for the Blue Streaks, who went 20-18.
Anderson continues to play baseball on the weekends in northeast Ohio this summer as a member of the Northern Ohio Hurricanes in the Tri-State Collegiate League.
But he also was drawn back to baseball in his hometown. After two years, Anderson returned to the Plum Legion team, and he said he’s glad to be back.
“I just don’t want to stop playing,” said Anderson, who also was a member of the squad after his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Mustangs.
“I want to play as many games as I can this summer, and (Plum Legion) helps with that. It’s nice to play on the weeknights on a team like this. Plum summer teams always have good talent with a lot of kids showing up, and it’s that way this summer.”
Anderson, in his final year of Legion eligibility, is the elder statesman on the team.
By rule, a player can be a part of a Senior Legion team after his freshman year of college only if he had played at least one prior Legion season.
Plum first-year coach John Simmers said he had to turn away four who finished their freshman years in college and were age eligible but had not played Legion baseball before. Nineteen is the age limit for Senior Legion baseball.
But Simmers said he is pleased with the numbers. With a roster of 16 — seven of them returned from last year’s team — he said attendance at early-season practices and the first seven games was strong.
“The guys are really dedicated to the team,” Simmers said. “I never feel like we are going to come close to not having enough players.”
Plum went 6-1 over its first seven games, including a come-from-behind, 8-7 victory over Montour last Thursday. The team led 3-0 in the first but fell behind 6-3 before rallying.
“It wasn’t one of our best games,” Simmers said. “Defensively, we committed four errors. To come back and win shows the character of this team. We talked to the team about never giving up and playing to the last out, and good things will happen. It’s good to get the win when we didn’t play our best.”
Plum lost its first game to Elizabeth Forward on a walk-off before going on its winning streak. Two of the six wins were by forfeit against South Allegheny and South Park. Both teams were unable to field enough players.
The final day of the regular season is July 8, with the double-elimination playoffs set to start July 10.
All nine teams in the Allegheny South League, including North Allegheny, Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair and Baldwin, will make the playoffs with the hopes of advancing to regionals and then the state tournament.
“We’ve come along pretty well,” said catcher Tanner Froehlich, a recent Plum graduate who will play at Seton Hill.
“We’ve worked through the adversity of not playing many games so far. We’ve battled every game and have come ready to play. I think this team has what it takes to go very far.”
Simmers said he doesn’t expect to get all of the games in before the end of the 16-game regular season. Rain also has made it difficult to play regularly scheduled games. Some have been rescheduled.
But, Simmers said, he knows when his players take the field, their abilities give them a good chance to win against any team they face.
“It comes down to basic baseball, doing all the basic things right like pitchers throwing strikes, limiting bad base running, hitting the ball well and playing good defense,” he said. “We have a lot of good experience on this team. I am confident in everyone throughout the lineup.”
Other team members are Dom DePastino, Anthony Tucci, Garrick Poe, Chandler Yocca, James Rose, Logan Schlegel, Jared Hoener, Logan Foster, Kenneth Rose, Michael Giannuzzi, Jared Simmers, Dakoda Dialosio, Brenden Kurzdorfer and Niko O’Toole.
Tucci and the Rose brothers are from Penn Hills.
By rule, if a player lives in a community that does not field an American Legion team, he can play for the closest team that does sponsor Legion baseball.
Plum was scheduled to play Saturday at South Allegheny, Monday at home against Bethel Park and at Bethel Park on Tuesday. Those games were to conclude past the deadline for this week’s edition.
Bethel Park, at the top of the league standings, was 9-3 through the games of June 27.
Plum is scheduled to host Upper St. Clair at 6:30 p.m. Friday before a home doubleheader against Baldwin on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.