Pittston Area bounces back to win Section 5 Little League major softball title

By John Erzar - jerzar@timesleader.com
Back Mountain’s Ava Hudak catches the ball while Pittston Area’s Jaylee Jenkins slides into second base during the Section 5 Little League Major Softball championship game Saturday at Old Forge Little League. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Pittston Area shortstop Isabella Giardina scoops up a grounder against Back Mountain on Saturday. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Pittston Area celebrates after defeating Back Mountain 3-0 to win the Section 5 Little League Major Softball championship Saturday at Old Forge Little League. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

OLD FORGE — Pittston Area didn’t have much time to dwell on what could have been. Instead, the all-stars took control of the present on Saturday afternoon.

Less than 24 hours after giving up six runs in a disastrous sixth inning, Pittston Area shut down Back Mountain’s offense for a 3-0 victory at Old Forge Little League to win the Section 5 Major Softball championship and earn a spot in the state tournament.

District 16 champ Pittston Area will open state play at 11 a.m. Tuesday against the Section 2 champion. The state tournament is at Caln Little League in Thorndale, which is in Chester County.

District 31 champion Back Mountain forced another game by winning 9-3 on Friday, scoring all nine runs in the final three innings, including six in the sixth to snap a 3-3 tie. The offense managed just three hits Saturday but had four runners left stranded in scoring position.

“We try to instill in our girls a never-say-die attitude,” Pittston Area manager Mike Callahan said. “We tried to get them pumped up last night even though they were down. We met again this morning and told them they had to forget about the day before and move on. Don’t let it carry on to your play on the field and in the batter’s box.”

Back Mountain’s best chance to score came in the third inning. Chelcie Strobel rolled a one-out single down the right-field line and Brenna Hunt reached on an error. Both moved up on a sacrifice and Allison Vitanovec followed with a hard liner to right that was caught for the final out.

“We did what we normally do. It’s just Pittston is a great team,” Back Mountain manager George Vitanovec said. “We had runners in scoring postion. Vitanovec hit a liner out to right field that if it faded a little bit more, two runs would have scored. But you can’t say, ‘What if?’ You have to hold your head up high and move on.”

Sort of like what Pittston Area pitcher Gianna Adams had to do after a rough outing on Friday when she gave up nine hits. After giving up a one-out single to Hunt in the fifth, she retired the final five batters.

Pittston Area scored all the runs it would need in the first inning. Ava Callahan walked with two outs, stole second and dashed to third on a wild pitch. She scored on Adams’ single to right. Marina Antal followed with a double that came to rest at the base of the right-field fence to score Adams.

Back Mountain pitcher Victoria Spaciano kept Pittston Area in check until an error allowed Antal to reach second in the sixth inning. She later scored on a groundout by Emma Rinaldi.

DISTRICT 16 9-11 BASEBALL

Township Baseball 11, Mountain Top 2

Township Baseball captured the title and the right to host the Section 5 tournament, which begins Friday.

Township got on the board in the first inning when Drew Cisney singled on a 1-0 count, scoring one run. It notched three runs in the second inning on key singles by Brycen Martin and Preston Rusyn.

Martin earned the win with an impressive pitching performance. He surrendered two runs on six hits over five innings, striking out 13 and walking none. Rusyn threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen.

Township totaled 14 hits. Preston, Drew, Jake Aftewicz, Xzavyier Blackshear and Chris Scavo all managed multiple hits for Township.

Mountain Top tallied six hits on the day led by multiple hit games from Dylan Lueikol and Jacob Feisel.

DISTRICT 31 9-11 BASEBALL

Back Mountain National 17, Kingston/Forty Fort 5 (5 inn.)

Back Mountain National pounded out 16 hits to win the championship and advance to the Section 5 tournament.

Winning pitcher Chris Sholtis led the hitting by going 4-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Collecting two hits each were Kyle Chesman, Sam Finarelli, Jack Leandri, Dylan Geskey and Lucien Burkhardt.

Kayden Stevenson and Roger Staron each had a single for KFF’s only hits.

SECTION 5 SENIOR BASEBALL

Hanover 11, South Scranton 0 (5 inn.)

Hunter Thompson pitched a complete-game three-hitter as Hanover clinched a spot in the state tournament.

Hanover will play 11 a.m. Wednesday against the Section 2 champion at DuBois Little League.

Justin Stefanowicz had two hits and two RBI for Hanover. Aiden Geisinger added a hit and two RBI. Todd Koblicka had a pair of hits to go along with an RBI.

DISTRICT 16 8-10 BASEBALL

South Wilkes-Barre 14, Bear Creek/North Wilkes-Barre 3 (4 inn.)

Rajan Watson was 3-for-3 for South Wilkes-Barre in its win on Friday night. Samuel McCoe added a double. Luciano Jannuzzi and Noah Monsuer combined on the mound to keep Bear Creek/North Wilkes-Barre in check.

Holden Smith and Julian Labar each had a double for Bear Creek/North Wilkes-Barre.

AMERICAN LEGION

Swoyersville 11, Wilkes-Barre/W-B Twp. 0

Swoyersville used a 10-run fourth inning to take control and end the game after five innings.

Stephen Banas led the offense, going 2-for-3 with four RBI. Mike Kane and winning pitcher Draig Ruff contributed two RBI each.

Hazleton 13, Plains 0

In a game played Friday, three Hazleton pitchers combined on a one-hitter in a five-inning victory. Jeremy Moser, Adam Keselicka and Chris Heim allowed just one hit and two walks between them.

Heim also went 3-for-3 with four RBI at the plate. Dominic Yanuzzi added two hits while Devin Reed and Gabe Colyer had two RBI apiece for the Stripes & Strikes.

Pedro Betancourt had the lone hit for Plains.

Section 5 Major Softball Championship

Pittston Area 3, Back Mountain 0

Pittston Area`AB`R`H`BI

Giardina ss`3`0`0`0

Hintze cf`2`0`0`0

Novakowski ph`1`0`0`0

Callahan c`2`1`1`0

Adams p`3`1`1`1

Antal 1b`3`1`1`1

Mihalka 2b`3`0`1`0

Walter 2b`1`0`0`0

Rinaldi ph`1`0`0`1

McCawley rf`2`0`0`0

Jenkins ph`1`0`0`0

Soto lf`1`0`0`0

Doran ph`1`0`0`0

Totals`24`3`4`3

Back Mountain`AB`R`H`BI

Hunt c`2`0`1`0

Hudak ss`1`0`0`0

Vitanovic 1b`3`0`0`0

Spaciano p`3`0`0`0

Beyer 2b`3`0`0`0

Cruz 3b`3`0`1`0

Polasky cf`2`0`0`0

Palka rf`1`0`0`0

Hazeltine rf`1`0`0`0

Strobel lf`1`0`1`0

Zimmerman lf`1`0`0`0

Totals`20`0`3`0

Pittston Area`200`001 — 3

Back Mountain`000`000 — 0

E — PA 1, BM 2. LOB — PA 5, BM 6. 2B — Antal. SB — Callahan 2, Walter 2. SAC — Hudak.

Pittston Area`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Adams W`6.0`3`0`0`2`5

Back Mountain`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Spaciano L`6.0`4`3`2`1`8

LEGION BASEBALL

Hazleton 13, Plains 0

Plains`AB`R`H`BI

Betancourt`1`0`1`0

Lupas`3`0`0`0

Wychock`3`0`0`0

Yastremski`0`0`0`0

Serafin`2`0`0`0

Vernages`2`0`0`0

Delbaso`2`0`0`0

Wassell`2`0`0`0

Pecha`1`0`0`0

Rubbico`1`0`0`0

Totals`17`0`1`0

Hazleton`AB`R`H`BI

Lirano`2`1`1`0

Wilson`0`1`0`0

Santos`0`1`0`0

Reed`1`0`0`2

Silfa`1`0`0`0

Pietrzyk`2`2`0`1

Eisenhower`0`0`0`0

Heim`3`1`3`4

Colyer`4`0`1`2

Pozniak`3`1`1`0

Moser`0`0`0`0

Keselicka`0`0`0`0

Yanuzzi`3`2`2`0

Buchman`1`2`0`0

Rodriguez`0`0`0`0

Vozar`1`2`0`0

Totals`21`13`8`9

Plains` `000`00 — 0

Hazleton` `254`2x — 13

Plains`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Lupas L`2.0`6`7`4`1`3

Serafin`0+`1`2`2`0`0

Betancourt`0.1`0`2`2`4`0

Rubbico`1.2`1`2`1`4`1

Hazleton`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Moser W`3.0`1`0`0`0`1

Keselicka`1.0`0`0`0`1`1

Heim`1.0`0`0`0`1`1

Back Mountain’s Ava Hudak catches the ball while Pittston Area’s Jaylee Jenkins slides into second base during the Section 5 Little League Major Softball championship game Saturday at Old Forge Little League.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTLLLSoftball3.jpgBack Mountain’s Ava Hudak catches the ball while Pittston Area’s Jaylee Jenkins slides into second base during the Section 5 Little League Major Softball championship game Saturday at Old Forge Little League. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Pittston Area shortstop Isabella Giardina scoops up a grounder against Back Mountain on Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTLLLSoftball2.jpgPittston Area shortstop Isabella Giardina scoops up a grounder against Back Mountain on Saturday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Pittston Area celebrates after defeating Back Mountain 3-0 to win the Section 5 Little League Major Softball championship Saturday at Old Forge Little League.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTLLLSoftball1.jpgPittston Area celebrates after defeating Back Mountain 3-0 to win the Section 5 Little League Major Softball championship Saturday at Old Forge Little League. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By John Erzar

jerzar@timesleader.com

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar