9 A-K Valley baseball teams learn playoff fate; Plum earns No. 5 seed in Class 5A

Friday, May 14, 2021 | 7:17 PM

This season has been full of ups and downs for baseball teams throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley, but on Friday afternoon, nine teams found out their fate for the WPIAL baseball playoffs.

First-round games will begin Wednesday at neutral sites with WPIAL championship games being played at Wild Things Park in Washington on June 1 and 2.

After winning its first section title since 2016, Plum (11-6) received the highest seeding of the group. As the No. 5 seed in Class 5A, the Mustangs take on No. 12 Latrobe at Norwin on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., knowing they are going to have to work for every run.

“If we’re not fully invested and locked in, we can fall to anyone,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “I feel like that’s the kind of team we are. It’s not like our 2016 team where we had a ton of talent and a (MLB) first-rounder (Alex Kirilloff). This is one where we are going to have to scratch and claw for everything. This is a team that I feel like, and we’ve talked about it, that we are going to scratch and claw to play our best, but I also feel like it’s not about who we play, it’s how we play. With this team, I think if we play well, we can play with anybody. But it all comes down to us.”

Fox Chapel (11-7), who Plum topped for the Section 2-5A championship, received the No. 10 seed and will take on No. 7 Shaler at North Allegheny at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Foxes finished their season winning seven of their final nine games, including a come-from-behind victory against Armstrong to keep the River Hawks out of the playoffs in the final game of the season.

Franklin Regional earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A bracket after only losing one game.

Highlands (12-8) received the next highest seed of the A-K Valley bunch (No. 6 in Class 4A) and bring a five-game winning streak into the playoffs, including wins over No. 4 North Catholic on back-to-back nights.

The Golden Rams have outscored their past five opponents, 38-4, and are hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“It’s kinda what we figured. We thought we’d be six or seven,” Highlands coach Jeff Campbell said. “The boys were making comments today though that it doesn’t matter who we play, it’s just one game at a time. We’re going to go out and get the first one, then get the second one, and their focus is where it should be right now.”

Section 1 opponent Knoch (11-9), who struggled down the stretch, earned the No. 8 seed. In their ninth straight playoff appearance, the Knights will take on No. 9 Quaker Valley at Fox Chapel at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The winner gets No. 1 seed Montour on May 24.

After just missing out on a Section 3-3A title, Deer Lakes (9-6) earned the eighth seed in Class 3A and will take on Yough at Highlands at noon Thursday. The winner earns a matchup with the winner of No. 1 Hopewell and No. 16 Waynesburg.

Valley (12-7), which finished third in Section 3 behind Deer Lakes, earned the No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 Mohawk. Valley knocked off section 3 champion Derry twice earlier in the season and all four of their section losses came in the second game of each series.

“We’re definitely feeling confident heading into the playoffs, but we’re obviously going to get some practices in here over the next couple of days and before Thursday and kinda finalize things and polish some things and get ready to go,” Valley coach Jim Basilone said. “It kinda is what it is. It comes down to good pitching, defense and timely hitting in the playoffs. Someone who gets hot stays hot.”

Apollo-Ridge (7-5) placed third in Section 3-2A, but the Vikings beat No. 4 Serra Catholic earlier this season. The Vikings dropped four of their remaining six games, including two section matchups against No. 9 Shady Side Academy, and ended up receiving the No. 14 seed and a matchup with No. 3 Carmichaels at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mt. Pleasant.

Riverview (8-6), which is making its first playoff appearance since 2015, earned the No. 7 seed in Class A after finishing second in Section 3. The Raiders earned a big win over No. 1 seed Eden Christian earlier in the year and won three of their final five games of the regular season.

Leechburg (7-8) will be making its third straight playoff appearance after finishing fourth in Section 3 and earned the No. 11 seed. The Blue Devils will take on No. 6 Jefferson-Morgan at Mt. Pleasant at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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