Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plum Is Now a Cut above as It Turns Things Around

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plum Is Now a Cut above as It Turns Things Around

Article excerpt

In his third season, Plum manager Mark Dargay has made major improvements to the Plum American Legion baseball team.

When he took over the reins of the team three years ago from longtime skipper Bill Holmes, player participation was low.

"The AAU was taking all the top players [in the area]. We were scrambling and recruiting to keep all the top players," Dargay said.

But that's not the case this season as Plum had a 4-2 record in the Allegheny East League, 5-3 overall through Tuesday.

"This year is the first in my three years where I had to cut guys. Fourteen players showed up for tryouts. There were only three my first year," Dargay said.

The depth was needed this week as Plum embarked on a stretch of eight games in 11 days, beginning with make-up games against Shaler on Monday and Tuesday necessitated when most of Bruce Budzik's team was playing in the state high school baseball playoffs.

"This is going to show me what we have," Dargay said of the team's schedule. "We'll find them real quick when we see a good pitcher and a decent team. We have a good mix of young and old guys, all of whom seem to be good athletes. Nobody is pigeon-holed into one position. It's nice when you're juggling pitchers to be able to have versatility."

That versatility begins with Phillip Mahr, who, when he's not displaying an array of breaking pitches on the mound, can be found in left field. A 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander, he also played wide receiver on the Plum High football team last fall. He was expected to get one of the starts against Shaler this week . . . and for good reason. He threw a two-hitter against them last year in the game that sent Plum to the Region 6 tournament. He'll play baseball at Penn State Altoona in the fall.

He tossed a four-hitter in a 4-1 victory Monday against Shaler while collecting three hits himself.

Pitt-Greensburg's Brandon Hoener, a third baseman when not pitching, joins Mahr in the pitching rotation and relies on his changeup as his "out" pitch when he's not playing third base. But the rising star for Plum is Michael Anderson. …

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