First Posted: 7/9/2014
The Bob Horlacher Memorial Little League had an unbeaten record through two postseason softball tournaments as it went into this weekend in pursuit of its third straight and most important state championship.
Bob Horlacher won the District 31 and Section 5 titles to reach the Pennsylvania Little League Tournament in the Major Division, the most prominent and most populated age group, for players 11 and 12 years old.
Nine of the 10 players won a state 10-11-year-old title with Bob Horlacher last season. That age group does not play beyond the state level. A year earlier, they won a state 9-10-year-old and reached the semifinals of the East Regional.
Bob Horlacher was one of eight teams to reach the state event, which opened Thursday at the West Point Little League in Greensburg, a Pittsburgh suburb. The state champion, which will be determined today or Monday, will advance to the East Regional in Bristol, Conn. July 18-26 with a shot at the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon Aug. 7-13.
Bob Horlacher used a 10-run fifth inning to break a tie and finish off Carbino Club, 11-1, in the July 6 Section final. Through two tournaments, it is giving up just one run per game and has never allowed more than two.
“Defensively, we’re playing strong,” said Doug Jones, the team’s coach. “That makes it very easy on offense. We don’t have to always swing for the fence. We only need a couple of runs. So, if we have a girl on base, we can move her around and try to get one run at a time and know that might be enough for us.”
Bob Horlacher took that approach before breaking loose in the section championship game.
Hope Jones doubled in the fifth and eventually scored on an Erin Dunn bunt to erase what had been a 1-0 deficit since the first inning. The team then put together its big inning to clinch the state berth.
“Everybody was hitting and hitting hard,” coach Jones said.
Hope Jones has done all the team’s pitching in the postseason. She did not pitch during the regular season while pitching for the Tunkhannock junior high team so others have gained experience in the circle in case they are needed.
The players back from last year’s state champions are twin sisters Hope and Faith Jones, Dunn, Megan Straley, Jena Simmons, Mackayla Quick, Kassidy Shirtz, Kaci Coole and Sarah Kuderka. Left fielder Gabby Rosentel was added to the team this season.
Bob Horlacher Little League has a home field in Beaumont and has players from the Dallas, Lake-Lehman and Tunkhannock School Districts. It draws from the townships of Dallas, Monroe, Noxen, Northmoreland, Exeter and Franklin.
After dominating the District 31 tournament, Bob Horlacher recovered from a 2-0 deficit to beat Carbino Club, 7-2, in the section opener. It defeated Old Forge, 3-1, before the Carbino Club rematch in which it had two chances, if necessary, to win the double-elimination tournament.
Back Mountain American missed its first chance to lock up a District 31 Major Little League title when a lead got away at home July 5, but came back the next take to claim the title on the road.
Todd Phillips and Justin Finarelli combined on a three-hitter July 6 in a 14-2, five-inning romp over Kingston/Forty Fort.
Just as the team had to wait one more day, it also waited one extra inning. After coming up just short of closing out the game on the 10-run in four innings, BMA scored three more times in the fifth to clinch.
Phillips worked the first four innings, giving up two hits and one earned run while striking out five. Finarelli allowed one hit while striking out three in a scoreless fifth inning.
Frankie Nockley drove in three runs in the win.
Will McCrum went 2-for-3, scored two runs and drove in two. Michael Starbird, who drove in two runs and Dylan Schuster each had a single and a double. Finarelli drove in two runs. Phillips doubled in the first run of the game and scored four times.
Kingston/Forty Fort, which came out of the elimination bracket to face then-unbeaten BMA, rallied from three runs down to win, 17-9, and force the deciding game.
Phillips had a second-inning grand slam to help BMA take a lead. Schuster also homered and drove in three runs. McCrum had three hits while Phillips, Nockley and Starbuck had two each.