Back Mountain National advances to championship game

WEST PITTSTON — A second-inning West Pittston home run by Michael Branley put Back Mountain National down by a run early.

The minor setback only recharged the team, as National exploded for nine runs over the last two innings en route to a 14-3 victory in a District 31 Little League Major Baseball semifinal game on Saturday.

National (4-1) will play Back Mountain American (5-0) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pittston Township Little League field for the championship. American will be going for its fourth consecutive D31 championship. National’s last district title came in 2005 when the entire area was under the District 16 banner.

American defeated National 15-4 during pool play.

“The key was to have the boys relax,” National manager Todd Paczewski said. “They played a little uptight the first couple of games and (now we’re to) starting to gel as a team. Everybody’s trying to find their role and have fun.”

The game was broken open by a Zach Holthaus’ grand slam in the second inning who finished 3 for 3 from plate, including an RBI double to score the game’s first run.

Holthaus was one of three Back Mountain players to have multiple hits, with Luke Spencer and starting pitcher Michael Rother having two hits apiece.

Paczewski wasn’t surprised by Branley’s three-run, second-inning shot.

“I told Michael (Rother) that he would probably give up a home run today,” Paczewski said. “Short field, very hot out, the balls are going to fly. He didn’t get stressed.”

West Pittston’s season comes to an end on their home field, finishing 3-2.

“It epitomized what we were this year in the tournament as a team,” West Pittston manager Mike Branley said. “We’re a scrappy team. We pride ourselves on being opportunistic.”

That opportunity came when his son, Michael, took a pitch out of the park for a three-run homer.

“He did it with a conservative swing, ironically, but he met it on the barrel with good wrists and good form and the ball went out,” the elder Branley said of the home run. “It’s those kinds of opportunities where we try to teach the boys to always expect and be ready for and make the most of.”

West Pittston mustered six hits, but had one player with a multi-hit game. Ethan Elmes went 2 for 3 on the day, while Ethan Kozden had a hit, sacrifice bunt and a walk.

Rother picked up the win for Back Mountain, while Matt Sorick took the loss for West Pittston.

Back Mtn. National 14, West Pittston 3 (4 inn.)

West Pittston`AB`R`H`BI

Melberger cf`1`0`0`0

Elmes 2b`3`0`2`0

Kozden 3b`1`0`1`0

Hood ss`2`0`0`0

Kostak 1b`3`0`0`0

Lavelle rf`1`0`0`0

Wiedl rf`1`0`0`0

Capitano lf`0`0`0`0

Alfano lf`1`0`1`0

Sorick p`0`1`0`0

Jumper rf`1`1`1`0

Branley c`1`1`1`3

Greenfield 3b`1`0`0`0


Bk Mtn. Nat.`AB`R`H`BI

Paczewski ss`3`3`2`0

Spencer 3b`2`2`1`2

Sincavage 2b`2`2`0`1

Holthaus c`3`3`3`6

Federici lf`3`0`1`0

Conrad 1b`1`0`0`0

Shaner 1b`2`0`0`0

Rother p`3`1`2`3

Fife rf`0`1`0`0

Youngman cf`2`1`0`0

Morgan cf`1`0`0`0

Osipower rf`1`1`1`0

Ropieski c`1`0`1`1


West Pittston`030`0`—`3

Back Mtn. National`257`0`—`14

2B — BM Paczewski, Holthaus; HR — WP Branley; BM Holthaus

W. Pittston`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Sorick (L)`1.2`4`6`6`1`0



Bk. Mt. Nat.`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Rother (W)`2.0`3`3`3`2`5



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