PITTSTON TWP. – There wasn’t much Bernadette Lieback didn’t do.
She hit, and scored three times. She stole three bases, and manufactured one run with her legs alone.
Perhaps, it was her work in the circle that shined the brightest for Pittston Area’s 10-11 softball team.
Lieback entered in the second inning, and held Old Forge at bay. She surrendered just four runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 innings as Pittston Area rallied from a three-run deficit to capture the Section 5 title, 13-11, at the Pittston Township Little League field Sunday night.
Pittston now heads to the state tournament at West Point Little League outside of Pittsburgh and will meet up with the Section 3 champ Friday night.
“Playing Nanticoke in districts really helped us prepare for this game because it taught us how to keep our emotions in check,” Pittston Area coach Mike Lieback said. “It’s been a roller-coaster ride, but we always tell the girls to keep playing for six innings. At the end of each inning, we tell them the score is 0-0, and it kept them playing harder.”
With the way Old Forge started, an if-necessary game appeared on the horizon.
The District 17 champ scored three in the opening frame, and used big RBI hits from Olivia Shimonis and Madelyn O’Hearn to open up a four-run second and a three-run edge.
That’s when Mike Lieback and the coaching staff made the decision to switch from starter Alexus Borthwick to Bernadette Lieback.
“Lexi took us through the District 16 championship and she was taking us through this tournament,” the Pittston Area coach said. “We felt that there was too much pressure on her, and it was showing early in the game. They were hitting her pitches, and some of her pitches weren’t breaking. That’s when we brought in Bernadette. Softball is her national past-time, and she works pretty hard at it. She was in control today.”
It paid off.
Bernadette Lieback worked out of a jam in the second, and held on in a pressure-packed final inning.
After Pittston Area used a three-run fifth to break a 10-10 tie, the Lackawanna County kids went to work
Shimonis’ hard single started it off, and special pinch runner Elizabeth Majewski scored on Sarah Marinnelli’s hit to left that scooted past the fielder.
But with a runner standing at third and no outs, Bernadette Lieback buckled down.
She coaxed a pop-up to left, and recorded the final two outs herself – a come-backer to the circle and finished with her fourth strikeout of the game.
“Our girls fought the whole time,” Old Forge coach Jason O’Hearn said. “We had some bad breaks, and made some sloppy plays. But it never got us down. We battled back each time, and I’m proud as can be. When they switched pitchers, I thought it helped us because our team hits faster pitching better. We were kind of excited because most of the pitchers in our regular league throw harder. We were there. The kids just fought to the end. They just made a few more plays today.”
Pittston Area rallied twice.
Down 3-0 after one-half inning, a two-run single by Jaden Zawierucha started the scoring for the locals, and following an error and bases-loaded walk to Halle Bryk, the District 16 champ grabbed its first lead, 4-3.
The advantage was captured for good in the fifth.
Bernadette Lieback opened it with a five-pitch walk, stole second and took third and home on wild pitches, giving PA an 11-10 edge. The team scored two more – one coming on Liz Casey’s sacrifice-squeeze bunt and another when the third baseman made a wild throw to first on Bryk’s bunt down the line.
“Our goal is to try and score two runs per inning,” Mike Lieback said. “We were achieving it. I would like to have four an inning, but two is real good at this level.”
Ayva Lisowski had three hits for Pittston, and teammates Tiara George and Zawierucha each had two hits.
The top five batters in Old Forge’s lineup combined for 12 of the team’s 14 hits – led by Tiffany Gilchrist’s 4-for-4 evening.
Abington National - 16, Mountaintop 4
Abington Nationals pounded out 16 hits and Nate Sompel earned the pitching victory as Abington National won the 11-12 Section 5 Little League baseball championship.
Dominic Selvenis had a double and three singles in the victory and Camden Vaughn added three singles. Gavin Armbruster finished with 2 doubles and a single; Matthew Tressles had two doubles; Noah O’Malley added a double and a single; James Flickinger and Jake Stevens both doubled; and Cole Vida had two singles for Abington National.
Ryan Petrosky singled and homered for Mountaintop while Colin Williams doubled and singled in the defeat.
Pittston Area 13, Old Forge 11
Old Forge `AB`R`H`BI
Brown 2B `4`2`1`0
Gilchrist P `4`2`4`2
Parker CF `4`2`2`2
Shimonis C `4`2`3`2
Marinnelli 3B `3`1`2`0
O’Hearn 1B `3`0`1`2
Ciullo LF `1`0`0`1
Schmitt LF `2`0`0`0
Peperno RF `2`0`0`0
Majewski RF `2`0`0`0
Kuckla SS `3`1`1`0
George SS `4`1`2`0
Earlley 3B `4`2`0`0
Lieback C-P `3`3`1`3
Borthwick P-C `3`0`0`0
Lisowski 1B `4`2`3`1
Zawierucha CF `3`3`2`2
Casey RF `1`0`1`1
Vanesko RF `1`1`1`0
Bryk LF `2`0`0`1
Eike 2B `1`1`1`0
Old Forge`341 `021 — 11
Pittston Area `414 `13x — 13
2B - Marinnelli; Lieback, Lisowski.
Old Forge `IP `H`R`ER`BB`SO
Gilchrist (L) `5`11`13`7`7`4
Pittston Area `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO
Lieback (W) `4.2`6`4`2`0`4