Plum bats stay dangerous in WPBL victory

Monday, June 29, 2020 | 10:17 PM

A six-run fifth inning turned out to be the difference for Plum in an 11-7 victory over the Independent Players in Western Pennsylvania Baseball League action Monday at Valley High School.

It was the second time in as many games to start the season that Plum (2-0, 2-0) tallied 11 runs in a game, and it pounded out 12 hits off of three Independent Players pitchers.

“We got everything rolling again,” Plum manager Tyler Podvasnik said. “We did a lot of damage with two outs.”

The Independent Players grabbed a 5-4 lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Trent Bielak had the big hit in the inning with a two-run double. Joe Lang delivered the go-ahead single.

Plum returned the favor in the top of the fifth off of reliever Tyler Wood. It sent 10 batters to the plate and collected five hits. Four of its six runs in the inning and seven of its 11 runs overall came with two outs.

Danny McCaffrey led off the inning with a double and scored on a single from Max Oliveri. Collin Anderson singled home a run, A.J. Collins singled with the bases loaded to plate two, and Billy Dunleavy knocked in the final run of the frame with a double.

Jared Hoener singled in the inning and later scored on a wild pitch.

Hoener led the Plum offense with four hits in as many at-bats and finished with three RBIs. He and Denny Ayres delivered back-to-back run-scoring triples as part of Plum’s three-run first inning.

“At the plate, I felt great,” Hoener said. “I felt they couldn’t get anything by me. It’s nice to know that every guy in the lineup can hit. We showed it again tonight.”

Anderson finished with two RBIs. In addition to his run-producing hit in the fifth, he followed Hoener and Ayres in the first with a single to make it 3-0.

Hoener also picked up the win on the mound. He threw 96 pitches over seven innings, gave up eight hits, walked three and struck out six.

“I felt I had good stuff on the mound,” Hoener said. “I just wish I could’ve gotten ahead of a few more batters.”

Ben Aftanas delivered an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to draw the Independent Players to within three at 10-7. But Hoener then retired the final seven batters he faced to close out the victory.

“He wasn’t going to let me take him out,” Podvasnik said. “He pitched well.”

Issac Kelley contributed an RBI single in the second for the Independent Players, which fell to 0-6 overall this summer and 0-3 in the WPBL. Joe Lang and Dom Kurn led the way with two hits apiece.

“Playing teams in this league, it’s going to be a battle every time,” Independent Players manager Jim Basilone said.

“A lot of the teams are experienced. I have a team that’s mixed and matched with some younger players. There are not a whole lot of seniors on this team. But you still have to make the plays. There are a couple of innings in games where we don’t make those plays, and it hurts us.”

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

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