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Baldwin powers way past C-M volleyball

CANONSBURG – These are the kind of matches that fills the gym, stokes excitement and produces ulcers in the coaches.

Baldwin, the No. 3 volleyball team in the WPIAL, came to Canon-McMillan’s gymnasium Tuesday looking for separation from the pesky Big Macs in the Section 2 race in Class 4A.

Canon-McMillan, ranked No. 4, was still smarting from a loss to the Highlanders in an earlier meeting. The Big Macs were looking for a second bite of the apple.

Both teams entered the match with 9-1 records in the section. In the last meeting, the match lasted five sets. And there was every expectation that this one would last that long, too.

But it didn’t.

Behind the powerful hits of outside hitter Allison Murray and the smooth play of middle Ally Schenk, Baldwin defeated Canon-McMillan, 3-1, with scores of 25-20, 17-25, 25-18 and 25-23.

Both teams have clinched postseason berth with three section matches remaining.

“This loss doesn’t put us out,” said Canon-McMillan head coach Sheila Mitchell. “Our girls just need to turn it around. We lost to them before and came back and hadn’t lost since (this match). We can bounce back. It will just take some extra preparation over the next three games.”

In the fourth and deciding set, Canon-McMillan led 22-21 after winning five of the last six points. But the Highlanders won three of the next four points for a 24-23 lead, then put the Big Macs away with the game-winner.

“We beat them at Baldwin in five sets and this one was a really great match,” said Highlanders head coach Chris Kelly. “We knew that when we play Canon-Mac, they are going to play really good defense. They fight for every point and it’s really hard for us to put the ball on the floor. Coming into this match, we just felt we had to mix up our shots. When we had the chance to tip a shot here or there just to keep them off balance, we did. That’s how good they are on defense.”

Baldwin jumped to an 11-6 lead in the first match on the way to a 25-20 win. Canon-McMillan got to within two points before Baldwin got the final three points.

An early run produced a 14-9 lead for Canon-McMillan that turned into a 25-17 win. But Baldwin took the momentum back with a 25-18 win in the third set.

Sam Parker had 18 digs and 10 kills for C-M. Katie Weston had 36 digs, Jenna Vogen 10 kills and Morgan Galligan 11 digs and 25 assists.

Murray had 17 kills and Schenk 24 digs for Baldwin.

Heinola, inexperienced D lead Jets past Penguins, 4-1

PITTSBURGH – Ville Heinola scored his first NHL goal to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

The Jets got their first win in Pittsburgh since returning to the NHL as an expansion team in 2011. The Penguins previously won 18 consecutive home games against the Jets-Atlanta Thrashers franchise dating to March 24, 2007. Pittsburgh’s last loss against Winnipeg at home came on Dec. 27, 2006.

Tucker Poolman scored his second NHL goal and Neal Pionk his second of the season as three defensemen scored for an inexperienced Jets blueline, which combined for 350 career NHL games.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first of the season, while Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele both had three assists for the Jets, who closed a season-opening, four-game road trip. Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves in his second start of the season.

Sidney Crosby scored his first of the season and Matt Murray stopped 17 shots for Pittsburgh, which routed Columbus 7-2 on Saturday.

Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was granted a personal leave of absence, while Josh Morrissey missed his second straight game after sustaining an upper body injury during warmups before Sunday’s loss at the New York Islanders.

The Jets played Tuesday without six defensemen from last season’s team, which lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs. The list includes Kulikov and Morrissey, while Dustin Byfuglien remains away from the team on a personal leave. Winnipeg traded Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers, while Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot left in free agency.

Pittsburgh had injury troubles of its own as Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad were recently placed on injured reserve after leaving Saturday’s win against Columbus with lower body injuries. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said both will be out long term. Patric Hornqvist also left Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed injury.

Crosby opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game. He was alone at the top of the crease when he redirected Jake Guentzel’s pass past Hellebuyck.

Heinola, the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft, scored his first NHL goal at 5:48 of the period. Heinola’s shot from the top of the left circle snuck underneath Murray’s glove to tie the game.

Ehlers gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later. He pounced on a turnover at Pittsburgh’s blue line and ripped a short-side wrist shot past a standing Murray.

Poolman put Winnipeg ahead 3-1 just 54 seconds into the second period with a blocker-side wrist shot from the slot.

Pionk made it 4-1 midway through the second when he poked a loose puck underneath Murray during a net-mouth scramble.

NOTES: Crosby passed Jean Beliveau for 41st on the NHL’s career points list. . Pittsburgh’s Brandon Tanev played against his former team. Tanev, who signed a six-year, $21-million contract in July, set career highs last season with the Jets and scored 24 goals and 51 points in 195 games. . Penguins D John Marino and F Sam Lafferty made their NHL debuts. Lafferty grew up less than 100 miles from Pittsburgh. . The Penguins have won 15 of their last 20 games overall against the Jets.

Up next

Jets: Play their home opener Thursday against Minnesota

Penguins: Close a season-opening four-game homestand Thursday against Anaheim

editor's pick
Late goal sinks C-M, gives Lebo section title

CANONSBURG – Fourteen minutes into the match and Canon-McMillan was already facing a two-goal deficit.

The Big Macs erased it.

Down one goal more than halfway through the second half, Canon-McMillan’s Nino Civitate had an answer.

Section rival Mt. Lebanon wasn’t going to allow for it a third C-M comeback.

After collecting the ball at his feet while running to the right goalpost, Liam Donald brought his sweeping right leg through and rolled a goal into the bottom left-hand corner of the net with 2:08 left to break a tie and lift Mt. Lebanon over Canon-McMillan, 4-3, in a Class 4A Section 2 boys soccer match Tuesday night.

“I think we just ran out of time,” said Canon-McMillan interim coach Martin Pletz. “I thought we largely controlled the game. Our overall play was good but we just couldn’t stick the ball in the net one last time.”

Pletz was coaching for suspended C-M coach Larry Fingers.

The late goal didn’t give Canon-McMillan (8-2-1, 11-3-1) much time to respond outside of a hurried corner with 30 seconds left. The Big Macs’ five-match winning streak was snapped.

It also clinched for Mt. Lebanon (11-0-0, 13-1-1) its first section championship since 2010. The Blue Devils haven’t lost since their first match of the season.

“After a game like that we are happy to be on the right side of it,” said Mt. Lebanon coach Bill Perz. “It was a back-and-forth game. Canon-Mac has a bunch of dynamic players and can move the ball from side to side really well. Anywhere from 40 yards and in is a set piece. They kept us under pressure until the last 30 seconds.”

It looked as if Mt. Lebanon would cruise to its 13th consecutive victory.

Seconds after Blue Devils goalkeeper Steven Vines robbed Tommy Samosky with a diving save, Mt. Lebanon’s Danny Simboro opened the scoring with 30:04 left in the first half. That lead was doubled three minutes later when Zach Nellas pounced on a weak rebound off a free kick to make it 2-0.

That was until C-M’s Joey Fonagy won a pair of battles in the box exactly 10 minutes apart – with 17:10 and 7:10 remaining in the first half – to score a pair of goals and tie the game at 2-2.

“When we conceded the first and second (goals), I told them to keep playing,” Pletz said. “Our players were largely doing what we were asking of them. It was just a matter of staying the course, keep playing and believing the goals would come. They did, at least in the first half.”

A little over halfway into the second half, the Big Macs answered a late first-half goal from Mt. Lebanon that gave it a 3-2 lead.

After multiple chances for Canon-McMillan to tie the match in the second half, Civitate finally helped the Big Macs break through. A couple of one-touch passes eventually found the foot of Fonagy, whose shot was stopped but bounded across an open goalmouth to an attacking Civitate to tie the score with 18:59 remaining in regulation.

“We can play with anybody,” Pletz said. “It’s about the fine margins. We get lucky and win some. We get unlucky and loss some. It’s about sharpening up the little things, hoping they go your way. That allows you to be on the right end of those fine margins. That’s the way it is come playoff time.”

Bullpens? More like blowpens as playoff relievers get rocked

Kyle Gibson kept hoping he’d someday pitch in October, take the mound in a big game when the whole sport was watching. Last week, he got that chance.

Summoned late at Yankee Stadium, the 31-year-old Minnesota right-hander entered the AL Division Series opener. The result – one inning, three runs on three walks, a hit and three stolen bases.

“First postseason opportunity, didn’t go how I thought it was going to go,” he said.

He’s not alone.

National League closers Carlos Martinez, Mark Melancon and Sean Doolittle were tagged. All-Star setup man Ryan Pressly struggled, $140 million starter Patrick Corbin was shelled in a different role.

Bullpens? More like blowpens as playoff relievers across the majors got rocked.

Their totals so far in the ALDS and NLDS: 100 innings, 65 earned runs and a 5.85 ERA.

The most effective reliever this month? Max Scherzer, the three-time Cy Young Award winner who struck out all three batters he faced at Dodger Stadium.

And remember, Scherzer and the Washington Nationals made it this far only after rallying late against Milwaukee closer Josh Hader in the NL wild-card game.

Not exactly what fans were expecting, seeing how relievers for the eight teams that made this round combined for a 4.12 ERA in the regular season.

Then again, it’s not the regular season.

“When you pitch in the postseason, you’re kind of fighting – you’re fighting emotions, you’re fighting, like, you’re pretty energetic physically, a lot of times,” successful Tampa Bay starter Charlie Morton said. “It’s obviously October, it’s the end of the regular season. You’re kind of in a spot where you really haven’t been all year.”

Aroldis Chapman and the New York Yankees were about the only relief corps to escape unscathed, allowing three earned runs in 13 1/3 innings. Chapman threw a called third strike past Twins slugger Nelson Cruz to finish off a 5-1 win Monday night for a three-game sweep.

“I think the really important part of it has been that we’ve been healthy,” Chapman said through a translator.

The Dodgers watched their ’pen give up five runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday during a 6-1 loss at Washington. That sent their series back to LA for a deciding Game 5, with Walker Buehler set to start Wednesday – and longtime lefty ace Clayton Kershaw ready to relieve.

“Obviously this game Clayton was available and it was more of a situation – seventh, eighth, sixth, seventh, eighth, potentially ninth inning tied or with the lead,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Obviously the game got away from us.”

“So now to preserve him and to have him ready to go, whatever we need from him, for Game 5, is certainly a good thing to be piggybacked at some point with Walker. That’s kind of the thought,” he said.

The Cardinals and Braves will play Game 5 in Atlanta on Wednesday. Martinez has already had two appearances this series in which he allowed three runs; he had only one all season for St. Louis. Melancon, who became the Braves’ closer after he was acquired from San Francisco at the July 31 trade deadline, gave up four runs in a Game 1 loss.

Scherzer, meanwhile, pitched seven innings to help Doolittle and the Nationals tie the Dodgers at two games each. That came after Scherzer’s one-inning stint Friday, on top of his start in the wild-card game last Tuesday.

Any chance we’ll see him in Game 5?

“I doubt it,” he said. “No, I mean, my arm is hanging right now. That was, that, that pushed me all the way to the edge and then some. So, yeah, I can’t imagine any scenario where I’m pitching.”


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Steelers' Rudolph remains in concussion protocol

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says quarterback Mason Rudolph “appears to be doing fine” but remains in the concussion protocol following an illegal hit by Baltimore safety Earl Thomas.

Rudolph left last weekend’s overtime loss to Baltimore in the third quarter after Thomas hit Rudolph in the chin with his helmet. Rudolph was knocked unconscious on the play but was able to slowly make his way off the field. Tomlin made it a point to say Rudolph was cleared by medical personnel to walk off under his own power and the fact the medical cart malfunctioned didn’t play a factor in the decision.

Rudolph went to a hospital for evaluation before being cleared to go home. Rudolph was at the team’s facility on Monday, but Tomlin declined to give a timetable on Rudolph’s potential availability for Sunday’s visit to Los Angeles to play the Chargers.

Rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges will start at quarterback if Rudolph is unable to play.

The Steelers will be without running back Jaylen Samuels for about a month. Samuels underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.