First Posted: 8/2/2014
These two teams have to be used to each other by now.
Exeter and Back Mountain Light Blue played for the second time in a week at the 8- and 9-year-old Exeter Lions Little League tournament.
On July 25, Exeter beat Back Mountain in the winner’s bracket final. However, Back Mountain fought back through the loser’s bracket to reach the championship game held Friday evening in Exeter. That game saw Back Mountain shut out Exeter, 5-0, to extend the tournament to today.
The championship final will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in Exeter.
Back Mountain starting pitcher Gary Weaver III stole the show on Friday night. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up just three hits, striking out seven and walking just two. He added bases clearing a triple in the fifth inning that broke open the game and eventually gave Back Mountain the win.
“(He) had great control today and he pitched a nice game,” Back Mountain coach Gary Weaver said. “But we played terrific defense. These kids have been practicing since the end of June. The come out every day and they work hard.”
Things started a little rocky for Exeter.
Starting pitcher Jack Mathis threw well, but he gave up two runs in the first inning. Weaver and Shane Healey drew walks to force in the first two runs. Mathis’ command was good, and he struck out six over his three innings of work. From there, Exeter’s defense, as well as their pitching, was stout.
“I thought they played well,” Exeter coach Bill Shutter said. “We were a little flat. Back Mountain only had a few hits and some timely walks. We didn’t have enough base runners.”
In the second inning, Mathis walked his first two batters before striking out the side.
Both teams hit an offensive slump in the middle innings. Exeter had just one base runner in the second and third innings, while Back Mountain had three. But the game would be put out of reach in the fifth.
Casey Noone came on to pitch for Exeter in the third inning. In the fifth, he got Braydon Finarelli and Bryan Osipower to fly out to center for the first two outs. Then, a walk by Brian Kwak, a single by Lucas Shultz and a walk from Healey, set the stage for Weaver.
Weaver, a right-handed hitter, sent a humpback liner down the first base line – the ball landed about a foot fair – and rolled all the way to the fence. Three runs scored and Weaver ended up on third. That put Back Mountain up 5-0, and up for good.
“They have some really good pitching,” coach Weaver said. “We had to wait on him. The kids were very discipline at the plate and we were very glad with what we had.”
Osipower came on in the fifth and got the final four outs to secure Back Mountain’s win.
Exeter, the winner’s bracket champion, made quick work through the field throughout the tournament. It took down Pittston City in the opener, and then beat West Pittston and Plains to reach the final.
The message from Exeter’s coaching staff going into Sunday’s game is a simple one: “Just forget what happened,” Schutter said. “Come out fresh. We were here before and just finish it up on Sunday. We hit the ball right at them and we didn’t hit any gaps. Sunday we’ll just have to find the holes.”
Back Mountain made it through the tournament with wins over Kingston/Forty-Fort, Back Mountain Royal and Hanover. The only loss so far was against Exeter in the winner’s bracket final.
“They came together,” coach Weaver said. “You see the kids learning every day and getting better.”