Back Mountain was the last unbeaten at the Pennsylvania Junior Little League Baseball Championships, before falling twice to Yough by a total of three runs to settle for second in the state.
“I’m very proud of each and every one of them for the effort,” said Back Mountain manager Eric Williams, who was also happy that his team earned some uncommon praise. “One thing I was very proud of was that the umpires made multiple comments to me about how the boys played, but also how they conducted themselves on and off the field.”
Back Mountain made it through the winners’ bracket untouched during the tournament at Cranberry. It topped Morrisville, 9-5; Montoursville, 8-7; and Franklin, 10-2.
Frank Nockley drove in three runs with a pair of doubles in the tournament opener. He had an RBI double in the first inning and a two-run double in the fifth to lift his team into a tie.
Back Mountain then won the game with four runs in the sixth when it scored twice on errors and twice on bases-loaded walks.
Todd Phillips doubled in one run and scored another during a five-run bottom of the fourth against Montoursville July 29, then Sam Nocito singled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth of the seven-inning game.
Jake Connolly and Mike Rother drew bases-loaded walks for a 2-0 lead in the first.
The game was tied 2-2, then again, 7-7, after Back Mountain’s five-run fourth was followed by Montoursville’s five-run fifth.
Jack Lukasavage and Zack Holthaus started the Back Mountain fourth with singles. Phillips broke the tie with his double to the gap in left-center, then scored on a Lucas McGeehan single.
McGeehan stole second then scored on a Kyle Sincavage single. Sincavage did the same, stealing second and scoring on a Rother single.
Connolly worked a two-out walk in the sixth, alertly advanced to third when Rother reached on an infield error and scored on Nocito’s single to right field.
Rother allowed just one run on one hit while striking out five in 3 2/3 innings. Phillips got the win in relief by striking out four while not giving up a run.
Nockley, Phillips and winning pitcher McGeehan all had two hits in the winners’ bracket final against Franklin, the first of two games that Back Mountain played July 31.
Nockley was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. Phillips was 2-for-5 and drove in a run.
McGeehan was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. He gave up two hits and struck out three in four innings on the mound.
Sincavage, who doubled, and Fred Lombardo, who singled, each matched Nockley by driving in two runs.
Yough then ruined Back Mountain’s title hopes by winning, 9-7, to force a winner-take-all championship game that it won, 1-0, Monday.
Phillips went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the first meeting between the two teams. McGeehan and Sincavage had RBI singles and Lukasavage also had a hit.
Yough scored the only run of the final in the top of the sixth.
Back Mountain was unable to score despite getting a leadoff hit and getting that runner into scoring position each of the first three innings. It also had the leadoff man on in the fifth and a runner in scoring position in the sixth.
Yough twice turned line drives into inning-ending double plays.
Connolly worked a complete game, limiting Yough to one run on six hits. He also had a single.
Nockley and Lombardo doubled while Lukasavage and Zach Holthaus also had singles.
Bellefonte eliminated Back Mountain American from the state tournament with an 8-0 victory July 29 in Bradford.
BMA went 1-2 in the eight-team, double-elimination event to finish tied for fifth in the state.