The Back Mountain’s latest successful run in the Little League all-star tournament season came to an end Tuesday when the last of the three baseball teams to finish in the top four in the state in their age groups concluded play.
The 10-11-year-old Back Mountain National baseball team was the last standing before its 11-9 loss to West Side from West Chester Tuesday at the Lehigh Little League in Bethlehem.
The Back Mountain team finished third in Junior Little League Baseball, giving some players in that group of 13-14-year-olds their third top-three state finish in a row.
The 9-10-year-old Back Mountain National baseball team placed fourth.
Earlier, Back Mountain placed fifth in 8-10-year-old softball, giving the program a total of four teams in the top five in the state.
Back Mountain also won the District 31 title and reached the Section 5 final in Major softball, which is for 11-12-year-olds.
All of the state tournament teams won both District 31 and Section 5 titles.
A recap of the final week of the baseball tournament season:
Back Mountain National suffered its only two losses in the tournament in competitive, high-scoring games with West Chester.
The third-place finish was an improvement over last year’s fifth-place finish by most of the same team at the state 9-10-year-old tournament.
“We moved up,” BMN manager Gary Peters said. “We were a game away from getting to the state championship game.
“I’m very proud of all the kids. All 13 kids contributed and came through in games.
“It was an awesome ride. I hate to see it end.”
BMN earned the elimination bracket final rematch with West Chester when Zach Paczewski had four hits, including two home runs, and drove in five runs in Monday’s 16-10 win over Clarion.
Joey Peters also had four hits while Jude Nocito and Aiden Burkhardt added three each. Nathan Hinsdale chipped in with two hits.
Sam Barrouk got the win with four innings of relief in which he allowed just two runs. Burkhardt followed him to the mound and got the final two outs.
Paczewski was the winning pitcher while going 3-for-3 with a home run and five RBI when BMN opened the tournament with 20 hits in a 15-4 romp over Bethlehem July 28.
Alan Lisman had four hits and drove in four runs.
Nocito and Mike Cumbo each had three hits.
Peters and J.J. Rischawy added two hits and two RBI each.
BMN dropped its second game, 10-7, to West Chester the next day.
Nocito, Cumbo, Peters, Barrouk and Lisman each had two hits.
BMN came back July 30 with a 6-3 victory over Keystone.
Cumbo had two hits, including one that put the team ahead in the bottom of the fifth.
Nocito, Barrouk, Paczewski, Peters and Lisman all had a hit.
Burkhardt saved the win for Paczewski.
After the victory over Clarion, the season ended in the loss to West Chester.
Trailing by four runs going to the bottom of the sixth, BMN scored twice and had the bases loaded when West Chester got the final out.
“We came close,” Peters said. “We had a rally coming back, but just did not pull it off.”
Nocito had four hits in the final game while Paczewski and Lisman had two each. Hinsdale and Cumbo also had hits.
“Through District 31, Section 5 and the state tournament, the kids did awesome,” Peters said. “They grew as a team.”
Peters is hopeful that growth continues as the group moves to the Major level, Little League’s most prestigious, next year.
“We’ll go out next year and see if we can do better,” said Peters, who was assisted by Mike Barrouk and Eric Paczewski in coaching the team. “Hopefully, we can take it to the next step.”
JUNIOR LITTLE LEAGUE
Even playing with just the minimum nine players for the last three games while five team members headed across the state for the Prep American Legion baseball state tournament, Back Mountain remained competitive and finished third in the state.
Back Mountain went 2-1 with the limited roster and 3-2 overall in the tournament at Cranberry.
While still at full strength July 28, Back Mountain fell to Kennett Square, 11-0, in the winners’ bracket semifinals.
Back Mountain managed just four hits in the loss, including a double by Aidan Conrad.
The offense bounced back with 27 runs on 34 hits the next day to win twice.
Alex Paczewski led the way, going 7-for-8 with a triple, double and four RBI on the day.
Back Mountain pounded Council Rock/Northampton, 17-7, and Lake View, 10-0, to reach the elimination bracket final.
Connor Morgan and Luke Spencer each drove in four runs on three hits in the win over Council Rock/Northampton. Morgan was 3-for-4 with each hit going for extra bases as he finished with a triple and two doubles.
Paczewski was 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI.
In the second game, Paczewski was the winning pitcher while going 3-for-3 with a triple.
Conrad added a double and three RBI to help Back Mountain finish off Lake View early on the 10-run rule.
The tournament ended for Back Mountain July 30 with an 18-5 loss to Harborcreek.
Xander Shaner went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBI.
Morgan added two hits while Evan Hromisin, Jacob Seymour and Paczewski had one each.
Back Mountain National finished fourth in the state after losing to East Pennsboro for the second time in the tournament, 12-0, July 28.
BMN won two straight in the tournament following an opening loss.
The second win came in extra innings July 27 when BMN scored eight runs in the top of the seventh to break away from Fairless Hills, 9-1.
Connor Healey drove in the first two runs. Sam Finarelli added a two-run triple and Zach Williams had his second RBI single of the game.
The first RBI single by Williams came in the second inning and gave BMN a lead that it carried into the bottom of the sixth when Fairless Hills forced extra innings.