Hampton holds off Plum to punch ticket to playoffs for 4th straight year

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 7:43 PM

After multiple late-inning comebacks this season, including against Hampton on Tuesday, the Plum baseball team finally ran out of magic Thursday.

Trailing by three in the bottom of the seventh, the Mustangs (9-4, 9-1) pushed a run across and put the tying run on second. But Hampton junior Cam Marshalwitz induced a groundout to secure a 3-1 Section 2-5A victory and lock up Hampton’s (7-8, 6-4) fourth straight playoff appearance.

“I was disappointed that we didn’t come out a little bit hungrier today,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “We had an opportunity to come out and clinch at least a share of the section, but you gotta give them credit. (Marshalwitz) pitched a good game. We just fell a little bit short in a lot of areas.”

Plum’s Caden Norcutt led off the top of the seventh with a single up the middle and came around to score on Silvio Ionadi’s double down the left-field line, which put runners on second and third after pinch-runner John Ioannou advanced to third on the play.

Vollmer thought his team was about to conjure up another late-inning comeback.

“We definitely got close, and we have done that. It’s no way to live,” Vollmer said. “We’ve been fortunate where we’ve been able to come through in those situations, but it’s not by design. We don’t want to be in those situations anymore.”

Senior Ethan Kircher, who broke a 9-9 tie Tuesday with a bases-clearing triple in the sixth, stepped to the plate with a chance to help the Mustangs rally again. But Marshalwitz got him to ground out to shortstop Eric Weeks, and first baseman Mike Kosko cleaned up the throw at first to secure the win.

Marshalwitz allowed only five hits, walked three and struck out two while also allowing Plum’s lone run.

“I told the kids, we’re not a team that is going to strike out a lot of guys. We’re not going to strike out 10 guys like other teams do,” Hampton coach Kellen Wheeler said. “So we need to let them put the ball in play. We need to trust our defense, and we just need to make plays. That’s what we did today, and that’s why we came out on top.”

The Talbots scored their first run in the second inning when Vince Matthews hit an RBI single to left field to bring Brock Mattiuz around to score. Plum starter Colin Solinski, who threw 423 innings while giving up seven hits and striking out three, escaped two bases-loaded jams early and ended the second inning with a 4-6-3 double play.

Hampton struck again in the third when Adam Dembowski scored on Kosko’s RBI single up the middle. Two innings later, Kosko struck again with a sacrifice fly to score Weeks.

Although he would like to see his team bring more runners around to score, Wheeler thought his team did what it needed to do.

“We left bases loaded in the first two innings, and we need to get those runners in, too,” Wheeler said. “Just being able to chip away though, kids getting their bunts down and everything to move runners over and get them in, that was huge.”

Thursday was Plum’s first section loss of the season, and Vollmer admitted he was disappointed with how they played. But as the playoffs approach, and with a showdown against Fox Chapel next week for the section title, he is hoping the Mustangs can learn from their mistakes.

“It’s something that we’ve talked about,” Vollmer said. “Are we learning from our mistakes, or are we continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again? I hope we can learn from all of our experiences.”

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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