Duryea is hosting Monday’s Little League Baseball Major championship doubleheader and is now playing in it, as well.
The Pittston City/Duryea team advanced to Monday’s District 16 championship game at 8 p.m.
Exeter came within one win of being in the doubleheader as well, advancing out of pool play before losing to Back Mountain National in a District 31 semifinal.
The doubleheader, which will be broadcast locally on WQMY-TV, begins with Back Mountain National and Back Mountain American playing in District 31 at 5:45 p.m. Pittston City/Duryea will take on Plains at 8 p.m.
Pittston City/Duryea 6
DURYEA – With one mighty cut, Jeff Mazonis rediscovered his power swing.
It was just in time for Pittston City/Duryea to find its way into the District 16 championship game.
Mazonis settled down to turn in a solid pitching performance after a rocky start Thursday, then rocked a two-run home run that turned out to be the difference in Pittston City/Duryea’s thrilling upset of Hanover in a district semifinal at Duryea Little League.
“It feels great,” Mazonis said. “First time I was ever there. First time Pittston City or Duryea has made it there in a long time.”
Pittston City/Duryea ended a 40-year drought for two combined leagues that last sent a representative to the District 16 title game when Duryea, playing on its own, won the championship in 1978.
Pittston City/Duryea had a nail-biting time trying to hold off Hanover, but reliever Mickey O’Malley escaped a bases-loaded jam by inducing a game-ending forceout on a close play that had Hanover grumbling and Pittston City/Duryea breathing a big sigh of relief.
“I was getting a little nervous, yeah,” Mazonis said. “But I knew Mickey would pull us through there.”
Hanover pulled ahead early, batting around while ripping five hits to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Mazonis.
“First inning, I guess you can say nerves — for the coaches and kids,” Pittston City/Duryea coach Lou Lussi said.
Mazonis made a quick recovery, though.
He surrendered only Nick Schiel’s double the rest of the way while retiring nine of 10 batters until a pair of two-out walks in the fourth inning put him at 70 pitches.
“After they went through that one time, I knew how they were swinging and I knew how I wanted to pitch them,” Mazonis said. “I really just took my time, took a deep breath.”
Then he took the ball deep.
After Silvio Giardina singled and scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the bottom of the first inning, Pittston City/Duryea cashed in on two Hanover errors while erupting in a five-run third inning.
Chase Montigney swiped home as part of a double steal to put Pittston City/Duryea up by a run, then Mazonis delivered the big blow by blasting a two-run homer high and deep over the left-field fence.
“If I get a hold of one, I know it’s going,” Mazonis said. “I was hoping, but I really knew off the bat it felt good. It was a huge momentum change in the game.”
It was also the first home run for Mazonis during this year’s all-star tournament, after the slugger belted a few during the 2017 postseason.
Hanover gave Pittston City/Duryea one more big scare.
Daniel Fuller was hit by a pitch, Cody Quaglia beat out a bunt single and Colin Whitman drew a walk as Hanover filled the bases with one out in the sixth. Cole Whitman rocketed a single to center field to score one run and another scored when Jake Vigorito’s fly ball was dropped — chopping Hanover’s deficit to a run.
But O’Malley made sure it stayed that way, inducing a foul pop and a fielder’s choice to send Pittston City/Duryea to the championship game.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Lussi said. “Everyone said Hanover was the team to beat, or Mountain Top was the team to beat. Nobody talked about us. Nobody knew about us. But we knew what we had.
“I’m so proud of these kids.”
Back Mountain National 11
DALLAS – Back Mountain National scored in every inning Thursday night to bring Exeter’s playoff run to an end in four innings in the District 31 semifinal.
The game, the last of a tripleheader at Back Mountain, began minutes before 9 p.m. and ended after 10 p.m. when Back Mountain National put the game away on the 10-run rule as lightning and rain approached the area, avoiding the potential for delays and an even longer night.
Dane Schutter came within a few feet of a home run with a high shot off the fence in the top of the third to help Exeter produce its only run, but by then Back Mountain National had already built a six-run lead.
“We were fortunate to score the (four) runs we did in the first inning,” Back Mountain National manager Gary Peters said. “It got us going and we kept it going every single inning.”
Exeter’s Anthony DeLucca drew a walk to lead off the third inning. He got to third, but Schutter had to hold up at first, on the shot off the fence.
Pinch hitter Joshua Mruk lined a single to right field to drive in the run.
Zach Paczewski held Exeter to four hits while striking out six.
“He pitched a phenomenal game,” Peters said.
Brady Noone and Tyler Sciandra had the other Exeter hits.
DISTRICT 16 POOL PLAY
Duryea/Pittston City was the only team to go unbeaten out of two four-team pools. It was 3-0 to win Pool A.
Avoca/Dupont went 0-3 in the same pool.
Township Baseball was 1-2 in Pool B.
In what became a preview of the championship game, Duryea/Pittston City defeated Plains, 12-2, July 1 to decide Pool A after each team started 2-0.
Mountain Top defeated Avoca/Dupont, 13-1, to complete pool play.
Township Baseball defeated Nanticoke, 8-1, July 1 when Drew Delucca allowed just three hits over five innings while striking out eight.
Dean Horensky had a homer, double and single.
DISTRICT 31 BASEBALL
Exeter reached the semifinals with a 7-5 victory over Northwest July 1 to finish second in Pool B with a 3-1 record.
Kingston/Forty Fort defeated West Pittston, 4-1, the same day in a game that decided second place in Pool A and a spot in the district semifinals.
Both teams entered the game with 2-1 records, tied for second behind pool winner Back Mountain National.
West Pittston starter Matt Little held Kingston/Forty Fort scoreless for the first five innings before Kingston/Forty Fort pulled out the win with four runs in the sixth.
Both the District 16 and 31 winners advance to the Section 5 Tournament, which is July 14-18 at the District 16 champ’s home field.
The state tournament is July 22-29 in Berwick.