By Dennis C. Way The Times Herald
July 22, 2014
SKIPPACK — Back Mountain American scored early and often, but still had to hang on to top Warwick, 10-6, to stay alive in the Pennsylvania State Little League Tournament Tuesday night at Skippack’s Palmer Park.
Keyed by a two-run homer by Will McCrum and a two-run double by Dylan Schuster, the Americans pounded out seven hits and seven runs in the first inning, then added three in the second inning behind consecutive doubles by Justin Finarelli, Frankie Nockley and starting pitcher Michael Starbuck and led, 10-2, after just two innings.
But American’s attack dried up the rest of the way, managing just two hits over their last three at-bats, while the Bulldogs kept chipping away, and actually pulled within 10-6 with two on and one out in the fifth inning before Back Mountain’s Jake Connolly, the team’s third pitcher of the game, got the contest’s final five outs — three by strikeout.
With the victory, American stays alive in the tourney and will face Red Land today at 4 p.m. in another elimination game.
“No, I don’t think our kids relaxed,” said Back Mountain head coach Joe Phillips, when asked about his club’s lack of offense after the initial two frames. “I was glad we had two good innings to start the game, but we’re playing at the state-championship level. There is too much quality pitching and defense here to allow a team to keep scoring runs.
“I was just glad we were at least one-run ahead at the end of the game.”
Back Mountain wasted little time breaking on top, with McCrum homering to center field after Connolly reached on an error, three straight singles followed, with Starbuck chasing home one run and Schuster plating two more with a double.
Todd Phillips scored two more with a two-out double, and the home team was on top, 7-0, after one.
Warwick got two back in the top of the second, but McCrum’s single was followed by three straight doubles and American appeared en route to a mercy-rule win.
But Warwick reliever Anthony Yermalov came on to shut down American batters the rest of the way while the Bulldogs got active on offense, scoring three in the third via Mike Rockovich’s RBI single and Yermalov’s two-run single.
“We were trying,” said Back Mountain shortstop Todd Phillips, “but they came back a little and put up a fight.
“They did their part.”
Warwick would score one more run in the top of the fifth when Colin Costello scored from third when Yermalov drew a throw taking second on a wild pitch.
But Connolly came in to shut the door.
“We wanted everybody making plays, a lot of hustle and offensively we wanted to hit line drives,” Todd Phillips said. “And we did that.”
Dennis C. Way writes for The Times Herald in Norristown.