Plum backstop Ethan Kircher comes through in the clutch

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Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 4:12 PM


The Plum baseball team has fashioned a strong record this spring, overall and in Section 2-5A, and senior catcher Ethan Kircher has been at the center of the action.

In a come-from-behind 12-9 win at home over section foe Hampton on May 4, Kircher helped lead the comeback with a two-run single in the fifth and a bases-clearing triple in the sixth. The Mustangs were trailing 9-4 heading to the bottom of the fifth. Kircher’s sixth-inning triple broke a 9-9 tie.

“That was a big win for us that went a long way in our goal of winning the section,” Kircher said.

“It was a little demoralizing to see Hampton score those eight runs (in the top of the fifth), but we were able to rally back. Everybody contributed to that comeback.”

Kircher’s exploits this season aided Plum to a 9-3 overall record and a 9-0 section mark through the Hampton win.

“He had kind of built off that (Hampton game) from a game against Penn Hills (April 27) where he had a three-run homer in the sixth inning,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said.

“He has really done a lot of that clutch hitting for us all year, and a lot of that has to do with his demeanor. He’s just a calm, cool kid who doesn’t let big moments get to him. He’s done a good job of being a steady presence.”

In nine games through the May 4 matchup with Hampton, Kircher batted .308 (8 for 26) with a double, a triple, two home runs, 12 RBIs and five runs scored.

He also belted a home run and drove in two in a 8-7 nonsection loss to Keystone Oaks.

“I have felt really comfortable at the plate,” Kircher said. “I am happy with my results, but I’m always looking to take my hitting a little higher.”

Kircher was one of only two Plum players — senior infielder Matt Frazzetta being the other — who came into this season with varsity experience from 2019.

“He’s moved around a little bit as we’ve tried to make the most of his tools over the years,” Vollmer said.

“He pitched in relief as a sophomore because of his arm strength. But he later moved primarily to catcher. He’s a super athletic kid who we’ve always expected big things from.”

Kircher, Vollmer said, was ready for an increased role last year before the spring season was canceled amid the covid pandemic.

His sizeable presence this season, Vollmer noted, also is felt behind the plate where he has helped Plum’s youthful pitching staff.

“He is an excellent pitch framer, and he calls a great game,” Vollmer said. “He is able to do and say the right things for guys who can get a worked up on the mound and excited in some situations. He helps to slow the heartbeat down a little bit and keep them in a good place mentally, which allows them to compete. We saw that against Hampton where we had a couple of guys scuffling in bad-weather conditions. Ethan was able to help talk them through some adverse situations.”

Kircher dealt with a measure of adversity himself early in the season as he missed the first three games with mono.

“I just had to stay positive for my teammates through it all,” Kircher said. “It was tough not being able to play early on. But I knew I would eventually get back, so that helped me through it.”

Before the start of this academic year, members of Kircher’s family, including his mother and two younger brothers, moved to Florida.

His father continues to work at his Pittsburgh-based business and travels between Pittsburgh and Florida.

Evan Kircher, a junior, recently completed his first season with South Fort Myers High School. The team finished 13-12 and lost in the first round of a Florida High School Athletic Association district playoff tournament.

Ethan, who is looking at small colleges and junior colleges in Florida to continue his baseball career, wanted to remain at Plum to finish high school and play with his Mustangs teammates.

“I am grateful and thankful that he made that decision and that he is going through this season with us,” Vollmer said.

“I spoke with his family, and I know it was a tough decision. He’s separated from some of his family right now, and it is all so he can play baseball at Plum this year. From my perspective, it means a lot. It’s great to see him have the season we knew he was going to have.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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