Another successful all-star season for the Back Mountain Little League came to an end when two teams lost their first two games of state tournaments and another two went 1-2 in Section 5 play.
The Major and 9-11-year-old teams both lost in the state tournament.
The Junior (13-14) and 8-10-year-old teams were eliminated when they placed third in Section 5.
All four won District 31 championships this season and the two state participants had also won Section 5 titles.
BERWICK – Back Mountain National was able to weather two storms of the natural variety Monday afternoon and maintain its momentum.
It was the third storm — whipped up by a state-tested Ridley team — that washed away any chance for a Little League Major Baseball state title.
Ridley scored eight times in the bottom of the sixth to tie the score and then won it with a two-run homer in the eighth, eliminating National, 12-10, at the Berwick Little League.
Ridley won state titles in the 8-10 and 9-11 divisions with essentially the same group of players the last two years.
National would have played a consolation game Tuesday, but that was scrapped due to scheduling concerns when rain disrupted progress of the state tournament. Monday’s game started 30 minutes late because of rain and was delayed twice — for 20 and 55 minutes — because of more rain.
“It’s been a pleasure coaching these kids the last four or five years,” National manager Gary Peters said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything. A great bunch of kids. And parents, too.
“It’s just a sad thing coming to the end of Little League with all these players. I wish we were still playing tomorrow.”
National was three outs away from doing so, taking a 10-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth. But after starter Sam Barrouk reached his pitch limit after hitting the first batter, the relief pitchers labored to get those elusive outs.
By the time they did, Ridley had scored eight times behind a three-run homer from Austin Cannon, a two-run double from Carter Williams and RBI singles by Zach Landislaw and Irv Fisher. Cannon later capped the improbable comeback by lining a two-run homer over the right-center fence with no outs in the eighth.
National scored twice in the first inning on RBI singles by Mike Cumbo and Barrouk, then bumped the advantage to 5-0 in the second with a two-run double by Cumbo, who finished 4-for-4, the big hit.
The lead increased to 6-0 in the third, although there was some controversy attached to the run. Jude Nocito ripped a liner down the left-field line that appeared to hit the fencing on the foul pole. However, the umpires ruled it hit the top of the fence and bounced back inside the field for a double instead of a home run.
While the issue was being sorted out, the first rain delay occurred. When play resumed, Nocito moved to third on a groundout and scored when Mike Timinski walked and immediately broke for second.
After Ridley tacked on a run in the fourth, National came back with three in the fifth when the game was halted for the second rain delay. Cumbo’s solo homer was part of the outburst that increased the advantage to 9-1.
Ridley got a run back in the bottom of the frame on Fisher’s second home run of the game, but National answered back when Gavin Adamski opened the sixth with a homer to center.
Nocito and Kaden Coyne each had two hits and two runs scored.
All the aspects of baseball that had produced nine consecutive Back Mountain National wins were missing in the July 22 tournament opener.
The bats went silent. The pitching was hit hard. The defense was shaky.
The result was a 12-2 loss to C-Side from Canonsburg in five innings.
BMN managed just two hits — a first-inning single by Zach Paczewski and a fifth-inning single by J.J. Rischawy. The defense made four errors, including three in the fourth that helped C-Side score twice and take a 4-0 lead. The fifth inning, well, was a nightmare. C-Side banged out nine hits against three National pitchers and scored eight times to end the game due to the 10-run rule.
After Paczewski’s single with two out in the first, C-Side pitcher Shawn Miller retired nine of the next 10 batters, posting six strikeouts along the way. Paczewski was the only batter to reach base during the streak, dashing to first on a wild pitch third strike in the fourth inning.
Trailing 4-0, National cut the deficit in half in the fifth inning. Rischawy dropped a single into short right field to start the inning and then moved to second on a passed ball. He came home on a fielding error on Mike Timinski’s grounder. Timinski later scored on a wild pitch.
Back Mountain National lost two straight games in the state tournament at Bradford Regional.
National fell to West Point, 4-2, July 21, then was eliminated with a 14-4 loss to Lionville the next day.
Sam Finarelli had a two-run homer and double against West Point.
Chris Sholtis also had two hits.
Each team finished with six hits. Brady Zapoticky and Zach Williams had the others for Back Mountain.
Jack Leandri, Zapoticky, Sholtis and Dylan Geskey each had two hits in the season-ending loss.
“The kids played together as a team, one through 13,” National manager Mike Sholtis said. “It didn’t matter who was at the plate at the time.
“Everybody did the job that we asked them to do.”
SECTION 5 JUNIORS
Back Mountain defeated Carbondale, 11-9, July 18, then dropped two straight at Hilldale Park in Plains.
Abington defeated Back Mountain, 19-3, in the winners’ bracket final July 19, then Pittston Area won the elimination game against Back Mountain, 15-4, July 20.
Jacob Seymour and winning pitcher Gary Weaver had two hits each against Carbondale.
Weaver and Mitch Burgess each had two hits against Abington.
Jared Adamski went 2-for-3 and Jake Seymour drove in two runs against Pittston Area.
SECTION 5 8-10-YEAR-OLDS
Back Mountain National, which had won its opener to reach the winners’ bracket final, lost two straight to end the season.
Mountain Top shut out National, 2-0, July 18, then Abington American eliminated National, 14-4, the next day.
Dominick Zangardi threw a complete game and struck out 12 against Mountain Top. He also had a hit.
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