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Plagman's Ks key as Wesleyan beats rival

NORCROSS - This was how good Tony Plagman was on Thursday.

Greater Atlanta Christian's Taylor Wood was overpowering for much of the game, striking out 10 Wesleyan batters in six innings.

And he got outpitched.

Plagman struck out 13 in six innings, allowed four hits and no runs in leading the Wolves to a 6-0 win over GAC on Thursday.

With the victory, the Wolves improve to 19-5 overall and 13-3 in Region 8-AA play.

"(Plagman) pitched phenomenal," Wesleyan head coach Mike Shaheen said. "He's just so competitive. He showed it on the football field in the fall (where he set county records in passing yards and touchdowns) and he continues to show it here.

"He loves pressure. He loves it."

He also loved the home plate umpire.

Both pitchers thrived with the strike zone on Thursday, which was more liberal than a Clinton.

"He was pretty consistent," Plagman said with a smile. "He was giving me a couple of inches on the inside and a couple of inches on the outside. It was definitely a good strike zone for me."

There were a total of 24 strikeouts in the game, and at one point nine straight batters went down on strikes.

Both pitchers took perfect games into the fourth inning.

"Wood did not deserve a score like that," Shaheen said. "He pitched phenomenal."

GAC actually had a chance to give the junior a lead in the top of the fourth when it loaded the bases with one out - on a single by Mark Edwards, a walk to Lee Chapple and a single by freshman hitting machine Patrick Savage (2-for-3 in the game and now hitting .509 on the year).

But Plagman struck out the next two Spartans, both on curveballs, to end the threat.

In total, out of the 13 strikeouts Plagman recorded on Thursday, 12 came on his curveball.

"Yeah, that's my out pitch," Plagman said. "It definitely felt good today."

The senior star got all the support he would need in the bottom of the fourth. Connor Winn led off with a single under the glove of Edwards at shortstop, and after Wood retired James Ramsey and Plagman on pop-ups, Winn stole second and third.

Sophomore cleanup hitter Kevin Ruiz then laced a single up the middle to break the 0-0 deadlock.

Two innings later, Ruiz put the game away.

With a run already in - on a double by Ty Johnson and an error - and Connor Winn at third, GAC head coach Cliff Shelton decided to intentionally walk Plagman, who came into the game hitting an even .500.

Ruiz then came up and drilled his eighth home run of the season, a three-run shot to right center field that gave the Wolves a 5-0 lead and gave Ruiz 37 RBIs on the year.

"He's already tied the Wesleyan single-season record for RBIs in a year," Shaheen said. "And we've still got one more game and the playoffs. He's tied with some Plagman kid."

Said that Plagman kid: "Not many people know he can hit, but he proved it tonight. I probably won't be intentionally walked that much any more."

Wesleyan scored another run in the sixth, thanks to another GAC error, and Ruiz came in to retire side in order in the top of the seventh.

With the victory, Wesleyan wrapped up second place in Region 8-AA, behind Buford, and will host a first-round state playoff game.