Little League Baseball: Back Mountain National Ousted From State Tournament

July 24, 2018
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Little League Baseball: Back Mountain National Ousted From State Tournament

BERWICK — Ridley Area turned to a Cannon for the fireworks it needed.

Trailing by eight and down to their final three outs, the Section 8 champions pushed across five runs before Back Mountain National put away an out. Austin Cannon stepped to the plate two batters later and knotted the score with a booming 3-run home run to dead center field.

Then, he got another turn in extra innings.

Cannon put an end to a dramatic elimination game in the Little League majors state tournament with a two-run homer to center in the eighth inning. When the baseball landed just beyond the fence, Ridley walked off with a 12-10 victory over Back Mountain National, ending the Section 5 champions’ season Monday at rain-soaked Ber-Vaughn Park in Berwick.

“What we played like (Sunday) compared to what we played like today, we showed what we were,” BMN manager Gary Peters said. “Ridley’s a great team. I knew a 9-1 lead wasn’t enough. … I knew they had the bats, I knew they had the power.”

A game that had its first pitch pushed back to 1 p.m. lasted for nearly four hours due to the extra innings, a lengthy protest and two more rain delays during the game.

Despite the interruptions, Back Mountain was back to its usual self at the plate Monday following a 12-2 loss in Sunday’s state opener. Gavin Adamski hit a solo home run, Jude Nocito and Kaden Coyne both had two hits and two runs, and Mike Cumbo (4 for 4) homered, drove in four RBIs and scored twice.

“I just told them I loved them all,” Peters said. “It’s been a pleasure coaching these kids for the last 4-5 years, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Ridley — with a core that won state titles in its last two seasons together — answered with plenty of power, too.

Cannon’s blasts were part of a 3-for-5 day with five RBIs. Irv Fisher (3 for 4, four runs) got the comeback started with solo shots in the fourth and fifth innings.

Before Cannon completed the comeback, Ridley’s players gained confidence with each walk and hit in the sixth.

“We just needed to get ourselves going — a hit here,” Ridley manager John Scanlan said. “Everybody in our lineup can hit a home run, but we need everybody in our lineup just to hit a single every once in a while, get a walk.”

For much of the game, BMN’s roster showed why it got this far in what proved to be the final majors game for all but one player on the roster.

An immediate two-run lead turned to 5-0 in the second inning, when Joey Peters drew a bases-loaded walk and Cumbo lined a two-run double to left. In the third inning, Nocito hit a high fly that appeared to strike the left foul pole but was ruled a double off the wall; following a protest that turned into a rain delay, Nocito eventually scored anyway.

Starting pitcher Sam Barrouk cruised through those first three innings with a one-hitter. When he faltered a bit in the fourth, his teammates had his back.

Ridley’s Fisher homered to start that inning, and the team loaded the bases from there. But third baseman Adamski snagged a tough grounder in time to step to the bag and throw home to Joey Peters for a double play.

With the bases loaded two batters later, Barrouk’s payoff pitch induced a swinging strikeout. His teammates swarmed him, and coach Peters gave a hug to the clutch pitcher who went 5-plus innings with five strikeouts.

“Sam pitched incredibly well today,” Peters said. “There’s pitching rules for a reason, and unfortunately he hit his pitch count there.”

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