DALLAS – Back Mountain National was held scoreless for the first two innings of Thursday’s District 31 Little League 9-11-year-old baseball semifinal.
The offense quickly made up for it by doing all the scoring during the next 2 2/3 of a 14-4, five-inning victory over Back Mountain American.
“It wasn’t a slow start,” National manager Mike Sholtis said. “We hit the ball hard in the first two innings. It was just baseball. They made the plays and held us scoreless for two innings.
“I just told the kids ‘you have to keep swinging.’ We kept swinging and started putting runs on the board.”
National advances to Saturday’s District 31 championship game against Kingston/Forty Fort at 2 p.m. at Northwest.
The teams set up their all-Back Mountain semifinal showdown when National won Pool A and American finished second in Pool B.
Brady Zapoticky led the National attack, going 3-for-4 with a home run, double, five RBI and three runs scored.
American took a 2-0 lead after 2 ½ innings, but it was Zapoticky’s shot over the fence in straight-away center field on a 2-2 pitch with one out in the third that broke a tie and put National ahead to stay.
“Brady had a really big game,” Sholtis said. “He does have a lot of power.
“When he makes contact, the ball will fly.”
Zapoticky had plenty of help as National scored six times in the third, five times in the fourth and three more times to end the game on the 10-run rule on the same play that the second out was recorded in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Zach Williams had a single, double and three RBI.
Williams ended the game on a fielder’s choice. He came up with the bases loaded and National ahead by eight. He hit into a force at second base while one run was scoring. When American tried unsuccessfully to get Williams at first for a double play, Dylan Geskey kept running to score from second with his second run of the game.
Sam Finarelli, Kyle Chesman and Chris Sholtis contributed pitching and offense.
Finarelli started and went 2 1/3 hitless innings, allowing just one unearned run and exiting at that point to keep him eligible to pitch again in Saturday’s district championship. He also had a double, scored three times and drove in a run.
Chesman pitched next and struck out three in one official inning. He also drew three walks as the leadoff hitter and scored twice.
Sholtis held American scoreless over the last 1 2/3 innings, getting two strikeouts in the fifth. He doubled to drive in the first run and score the second run of the fifth inning.
Sam Rolland reached base all three times for American with two hits and a walk.
American opened the scoring with an unearned run in the second, then made it 2-0 in the third when Rolland singled and scored on Sam Plummer’s double to left field.
Charlie Letwinsky allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 innings got help when Rolland, at shortstop, started a double play that Matt Ferretti turned at second base.
Letwinsky left the mound after consecutive one-out walks in the third at a key pitch-count decision time and National took control from there.
Jack Leandri’s bunt single and an American error helped National tie the game and set up Zapoticky’s three-run homer.
Bryce Casey came off the bench to drive in a run and complete the six-run outburst.
Ben Wickenheiser gave National its second pinch-hit RBI single to start the scoring in the five-run fourth. Zapoticky and Williams each added two-run doubles in the inning.
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