Little League Baseball: Section 5 Majors Set To Start
At this point, only the top local Little League majors baseball teams are still playing.
And it’s no surprise Pittston City/Duryea and Back Mountain National are representing Districts 16 and 31, respectively, in this weekend’s Section 5 tournament at Duryea Little League.
“They want to learn, they want to get better; these kids have a drive — they really do,” said Back Mountain National manager Gary Peters. “They’re all friends. They like to work hard and they want to get better. They love playing baseball, they love coming to practice, they work hard at practice to get better. They do everything they can to get better in every aspect of the game.”
Having won its last six games by a combined score of 73-1, BMN is perhaps the team to beat and it will play District 32 champ Green Ridge at 5:45 p.m. tonight.
Peters said he, Mike Barrouk and Eric Paczewski have coached this group since the players were about 8 years old.
The greatest highlight so far might have come in 2016, when the team won districts and sectionals and finished fifth in the state.
“They had baseball skill and regular, raw talent in baseball,” Peters said. “I think the improvement is understanding the game and learning the situations of baseball.”
According to Peters, BMN practices include a heavy dose of situational play that helps every player know what they have to do in any scenario.
BMN has a gluttony of talented pitchers who were the Nos. 1 or 2 ace on their regular season team, including Mike Cumbo, Zach Paczewski, Sam Barrouk, Alan Lisman and Aiden Burkhardt.
Cumbo was spectacular in Monday’s 11-0 win against Back Mountain American for the District 31 title, in which he threw a five-inning one-hitter with nine strikeouts.
“It was a big game on TV and he rose to the occasion pitching in it,” Peters said of Cumbo. “He did a phenomenal job.”
BMN also has two of the tournament’s top catchers in Gavin Adamski and Joey Peters, although its talent goes deep into the infield and outfield, as well.
“All 13 guys are part of this team and anytime their name is called, they know they’re expected to perform,” coach Peters said.
Today’s nightcap will feature Pittston City/Duryea against District 17 champion Abington National set for 8 p.m.
“They’ve gotten much better coming together over the past month,” Pittston City/Duryea manager Lou Lussi said of his team. “Defensively, knowing relays from the outfield-in. They’re swinging a much better bat. Everybody is being much more consistent at the plate.”
While BMN has blown its opponents out every step of the way, Pittston City/Duryea has thrived with come-from-behind wins.
When the pressure is on, Pittston City/Duryea has shown an ability to score runs in bunches while almost always benefiting from good pitching and defense.
Jacob Dobrowalski hit a pair of home runs in the 6-5 District 16 title win against Plains, while Silvio Giardina, Mickey O’Malley, Chase Montigney, Jeff Mazonis and Nick Borgia are among the other players to watch.
“It’s honestly been a total team effort, 1 through 13,” Lussi said.
The double-elimination tournament continues through Tuesday or Wednesday, if necessary.
The Section 5 champion will then advance to the state tournament, beginning July 22 at Berwick.
“As you keep on going further in this tournament, it gets harder,” Peters said. “You gotta be able to play your game and have good defense, good offense.”
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