It took one Back Mountain team to stop the other.
After Back Mountain American and Back Mountain National won both pools, then swept a semifinal doubleheader at their home field, they squared off in Monday’s District 31 Major Little League final.
It was the second time in four years the two Back Mountain teams moved through the rest of the field to meet in the district final.
The players that make up the current National team continued their own run of success by qualifying for the Section 5 tournament with Monday’s 11-0, five-inning win.
“These kids are just incredible kids,” National manager Gary Peters said. “They’ve been playing together for five years now.
“They’re a blast to be around. They’re like your second family.”
National finished fifth in the state in the 8-10-year-old tournament with much of the same lineup in 2016 and moved up to third in the state among 10-11-year-olds last year.
The title sends National back to Duryea for the Section 5 tournament, a double-elimination eventscheduled to open Friday. Green Ridge, Abington National and Pittston City/Duryea complete the field of teams trying to keep Back Mountain National from another state tournament trip.
Back Mountain National 11
Back Mountain American 0
DURYEA – For three innings Monday, American gave National quite a battle.
That in itself was a significant considering National’s track record entering the championship game.
Then, as has been the case throughout the tournament, National’s bats ignited and another lopsided victory resulted from it scoring five times in both the fourth and fifth innings.
National had defeated its previous five opponents by a combined score of 73-2. So going into the fourth inning clinging to a 1-0 lead was uncommon.
National pitcher Mike Cumbo and American pitcher Logan Sakulich were in a pitching duel to that point. Cumbo was working on a perfect game, while Sakulich had allowed one hit, and the only run against him was unearned due to an error.
Sakulich, though, had thrown nearly twice as many pitches as Cumbo entering the fourth, and the National bats started to heat up.
Zach Paczewski drove in four runs with a sacrifice fly to complete the fourth inning and a bases-loaded triple in the fifth inning.
Gavin Adamski also drove in runs in both innings.
The 11 runs were much more than enough for Cumbo. He allowed one hit — an infield single to Evan Kaiser deep in the shortstop hole in the fourth. Paczewski, the National shortstop, made an incredible throw to first on the hit and just missed getting Kaiser out.
No matter. Cumbo retired the next three American hitters and finished the game with his ninth strikeout.
“We didn’t play the way we needed to against a quality opponent like that,” said American manager Spencer Chesman, whose team finished 4-2 in the tournament.
Adamski and Sam Barrouk each had two hits. Jude Nocito scored three times.
Back Mountain National 11
DALLAS – Zach Paczewski threw a four-hitter and scored three times when Back Mountain National reached the final by winning the third game of a July 5 tripleheader at W.W. Kubis Memorial Field.
Paczewski walked two and struck out six. He walked all three times up.
“Zach’s pitching was incredible,” manager Gary Peters said. “ … He’s so consistent. He hits his spots and he has nice off-speed stuff which keeps the batters always guessing.”
Kaden Coyne, who doubled twice, and Michael Cumbo each went 2-for-2 with three RBI to lead an offense that scored in all four at-bats and put the game away on the 10-run rule with two out in the bottom of the fourth.
“They came out swinging; came out hitting the ball,” Peters said.
Coyne, Peters and J.J. Rischawy all doubled off the right-field fence in the win.
Peters and Jude Nocito scored twice.
Back Mountain American 7
Kingston/Forty Fort 2
DALLAS – American’s rally started with an out.
Pinch hitter Mason Calvey’s flyout to right to start the fifth inning of a tied game seemed to ignite an offense that hadn’t done much all night in the July 5 game.
From there, American pounded out four hits and scored five times to defeat defending champion Kingston/Forty Fort, 7-2, in the district semfinals.
“(Calvey) is one of our reserve players,” BMA manager Spencer Chesman said. “He’s still an all-star, but he doesn’t start. But to get him up there and pound the ball like that, I think it gave everybody else a lot of confidence.”
Seth Berry followed with a slow roller to short and was able to beat the throw. Evan Kaiser then launched a double to left, and Berry displayed his speed again by scoring from first to give American a 3-2 lead. After Tyler Casey was walked intentionally, he and Kaiser moved up a base on Tucker Chesman’s groundout. Ben Fenster knocked both of them in with a single to left.
A scary moment followed when Logan Sakulich was hit in the back of the helmet with a pitch. He was able to continue on and was also able to circle the bases on an error on Myles Tirpak’s single. Fenster also scored.
American reliever Casey got into some mild trouble in the top of the sixth as KFF’s Aaron Klosko singled and Antek Evan walked. But a strikeout and an excellent play by shortstop Berry, who stumbled and threw to first while falling, ended the game.
Berry doubled and scored in the first inning. Chesman singled and scored in the fourth to force the 2-2 tie. Both came in on wild pitches.
Casey threw two scoreless innings, striking out three, for the win.
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