Fox Chapel upends Plum and keeps section title hopes alive

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Monday, May 10, 2021 | 9:13 PM


For four innings Monday, the Fox Chapel baseball team couldn’t find a way to produce a run.

They left two runners on base in the first, one on in both the second and third and one on in the fourth while tallying two hits. Meanwhile, senior right-hander Dante DiMatteo threw four hitless innings but walked eight as the Mustangs took a two-run lead.

“I think we were just a little tight at first, and Dante battled through and gave us four innings, which we needed him to do,” Fox Chapel coach Jim Hastings said.

Finally, when the Foxes needed it most, their bats woke up.

Powered by a DiMatteo RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Foxes (10-6, 8-2) scored two runs and added three more in the sixth to earn a 5-2 victory over the Mustangs (10-5, 9-2).

“I just told them that we are a tough team,” Hastings said. “Tough mentally, and we have a lot of tough kids that have a lot of resiliency. I think we’ve shown it all year, too. We lost two section games, both to good teams, Mars and Hampton, and that next game we came back and won because of our toughness and today was no different.”

The two teams will play for the Section 2-5A crown Tuesday on Plum’s new turf field.

DiMatteo walked two batters in the first inning before stranding both with a strikeout and a groundout. The next inning, DiMatteo walked Plum’s Christian Brown to force home the first run of the game before striking out the final three batters.

The Mustangs added their second run in the third after taking advantage of a Fox Chapel error and another DiMatteo walk. But the Foxes stayed strong and, despite the walks, DiMatteo was confident.

“Whenever I put ball in the strike zone, they couldn’t hit it. They were just fouling it off or it was going right by them, so I just need to be better next time, going out there and locating,” DiMatteo said. “I knew my defense would get the outs.”

After his outing, the Washington and Jefferson recruit has 20 innings of work since April 23 and has allowed two hits and three earned runs.

Luke Hudic took over in the fifth inning and picked up the win by throwing three innings of scoreless relief while striking out four and giving up two hits.

“He’s made, like, 13 appearances this year, and he’s pitched a lot of innings and I told the guys that I don’t think they know how hard that is to do,” Hastings said. “I’m proud of him because any time he’s been called upon, he’s shown up. He’s a senior, he only started a few games for us, but he’s been just as valuable this year than anyone we have, by far.”

Both pitchers produced at the plate late in the game.

DiMatteo drove in Vincent Reiber with his double in the bottom of the fifth, and Hudic started the three-run sixth inning with a single during his only at-bat of the game.

Senior first baseman Thomas Fravel also had a solid night for the Foxes, driving in runs in both the fifth and sixth innings while going 2 for 3 with two singles.

“This was amazing for us, and we had energy the whole time,” DiMatteo said. “Now, if we win tomorrow, we are section champs and we haven’t done that since 2015, so that would be huge for our momentum going into the playoffs.”

Brady Dojonovic started the game for Plum and threw five innings of four-hit ball, striking out four and walking six. Erik Streussnig picked up the loss in one inning of work and allowed three runs.

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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