‘The Back Mountain Little League will be busy in the week ahead.
Back Mountain will host district tournament doubleheaders each evening this week as part of the local expansion of playoffs this season to move from double-elimination tournaments to pool play in the most populous division.
Steve Skammer, president of Back Mountain Little League, said the move switches age groups with enough teams to the format used at the Little League World Series. In doing so, teams are guaranteed more games – some lose their first two and are eliminated in the double-elimination format – and gives each team chances to host games and possibly raise funds.
“It means each team is going to get a minimum of four games,” Skammer said. “You’ll be guaranteed two home games. Then, after that we’ll go to a double-elimination where the top two teams from each pool will play each other.”
The change offers a boost to leagues, which have traditionally lost early in the all-star process.
“It gives teams a chance to have some home games and gives an opportunity to get some revenue from your concession stands,” Skammer said. “You get to have your home fans there.
“It’s really to get more games for all-stars.”
For this season, Districts 16 and 31 of Pennsylvania Little League Baseball are instituting the changes in the 11-12 and 9-10-year-old baseball divisions. The 11-12-year-old division is the most famous in Little League Baseball as it advances players toward the international spectacle that is the World Series in Williamsport.
From a competitive standpoint, pitching depth becomes more important because of the additional games in the early stages as teams try to advance to sectionals, state play, regionals and, ultimately, the World Series.
Skammer said there were not, however, any changes in the selection process. Back Mountain allows its players to be heavily involved in the selection, voting for the first nine spots on each all-star team.
Many capable pitchers make it through the selection process.
“I think most of the time the better athletes in Little League are also the better pitchers,” Skammer said.
Skammer said the recommendation came from higher levels but each district was given its choice on how to handle the tournaments. The two divisions that went to pool play have the most teams entered.
“As presidents we decided, ‘let’s try it’,” Skammer said. “We can always go back if this doesn’t work.”
Back Mountain Little League has American and National all-star teams in baseball on the 11-12, 11, 9-10 and one combined Back Mountain team on the older Junior and Senior levels in District 31. The league has softball teams competing on the 11-12 and 9-10 levels.
Bob Horlacher Little League from Beaumont, Harvey Lake and Northwest, which includes Sweet Valley, Moon Lake and other portions of the Lake-Lehman School District, are also part of the district tournament.