Colin Watson comes through for Plum in comeback win over Franklin Regional

Thursday, May 4, 2023 | 9:34 PM

Plum baseball coach Carl Vollmer usually uses junior Colin Watson in save situations.

But after junior starting pitcher Erik Streussnig struggled with his control and didn’t last two innings against Franklin Regional in a WPIAL Section 1-5A first-place showdown, Vollmer decided to extend Watson out and he responded.

Watson blanked Franklin Regional over the final 523 innings, and Plum rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat the Panthers, 7-5.

Not only did Watson help with his right arm, his two-run double was a key hit in a five-run third inning when Plum (7-2, 10-6) took the lead for good.

Watson allowed three hits, and with the aid of a double play in the fifth inning, faced the minimum number of batters over the final 4 13 innings.

“I’ve been struggling at the plate, and it’s one of my first hits of the season,” Watson said. “I’ve been dominant on the mound all year, so I tried to continue that. It was nice to get out there and throw more than two or three innings.

“I was able to locate the curveball, my fastball had some late life, and I got up there and kept the ball low. I’m just getting better.”

Watson was sharp, but Streussnig wasn’t. He walked five and hit two batters in less than two innings.

“Erik didn’t have it. It wasn’t his best day,” Vollmer said. “Colin was huge (Thursday). It’s hard to come back from a deficit like that. We spotted them five runs.

“Colin was a calm, cool kid, and that’s what you need in that situation. He came in and filled up the strike zone, had a huge double, and I’m proud of him and happy for him. He was ready for it.”

Franklin Regional scored three runs in first inning on one hit, an RBI single by Blake Bertucci. Anthony Alesi drew a bases-loaded walk, and Owen Sinclair had a sacrifice fly for the Panthers.

The Panthers (6-3, 11-4) increased their lead to 5-0 on a two-run, bases-loaded double by Alesi.

“Obviously, five wasn’t enough,” Franklin Regional coach Bob Saddler said. “I thought we got off to a hot start. The boys played very well offensively. It would have been nice to plate some of the guys we left on base.

“It wasn’t for a lack of effort. We had good at-bats, and we battled. We just drove the ball to guys. We had a lot of loud outs early.”

Plum got a big break in the second inning to cut the lead to 5-2. With one out, Watson reached on an infield hit. Then with two outs, Carson Svidron lifted a high fly to center field that seemed to get lost in the sky and dropped for a double.

Instead of getting out of the inning, Franklin Regional junior starting pitcher Max Bernadowski allowed an RBI double to Logan Kemmerer.

Plum’s bottom of the order won the game as Svidron finished with three RBIs and Watson and Kemmerer two each.

“It’s been like that all season,” Watson said. “Some games the top of the order does real good, and then other times, it’s the bottom of the order that does good. It’s nice to have a complete lineup.”

In the third, Watson doubled home two runs and Svidron drove in two more with a hit. Kemmerer, who had three hits, drove in his second run with single.

“This was a big win, but we have another one against them (Friday),” Vollmer said. “We have to forget about this and come back ready. We have to be ready to compete our butts off.”

Saddler said he’s glad his team has another shot at Plum on Friday.

“There were some plays I wished we could get back,” Saddler said. “The guys know they are capable of making those plays. We have to bounce back and execute a little better. It’s that simple.”

Bertucci had two hits for Franklin Regional. Caden Norcutt had two hits for Plum.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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