The Panther Valley Black Diamonds were looking to go three-for-three in Keystone Senior Babe Ruth League play this season against the Hazleton Mountaineers.
After beating Hazleton twice during the regular season, Panther Valley couldn't complete the hat trick in Thursday night's American League loser's bracket final in Lansford.
The No. 5 seeded Mountaineers upset the American League regular season champion and top seeded Black Diamonds, 8-3.
"Our guys are playing good baseball right now," Hazleton manager Gino Ziller said. "We have won three games in the loser's bracket now against teams seeded high than us (No. 2 seed East Stroudsburg, No. 4 seed McAdoo/Tresckow and No. 1 seed Panther Valley). So, we definitely picked the right time to play good ball.
"We have played up and down all year long. But since we lost the first game in the playoffs, we have really been focused on winning."
After opening the double elimination tournament with a victory, Panther Valley dropped its second straight game.
"You need three elements in baseball hitting, pitching and fielding," Panther Valley manager Chris West said. "You need two out of those three to win a game. We had pitching for five out of seven innings. We had fielding for pretty much the entire game. We hit the ball, but we hit it the majority of the time right at them.
"Sometimes you get the breaks, sometimes you don't. Tonight, the ball didn't bounce our way."
Black Diamonds' starting pitcher Greg Pecha pitched a complete game, which included six strikeouts. But it was two bad innings that ended up coming back to haunt him.
While the Mountaineers scored three runs on four hits in the second inning and then three more runs in the third on two hits, the Black Diamonds could muster only four hits the entire game against the pitcher Corey Houser. That was in stark contrast to the two regular season meetings between the teams that saw the Black Diamonds bang out a combined 23 hits.
The majority of the Black Diamonds' offense last night was provided by a Brandon Gurka home run and a Greg Pecha RBI single. Kevin Schaller produced the only other Panther Valley run on a Hazleton error in the final inning.
"The first two times we played them this year, they were close games," West said. "Hazleton is a very solid hitting club. You go top to bottom in their lineup and there are four or five spots in their line-up, and they're not always in one area as he moves his guys around, that can put the ball in play.
"They make this happen and that was the case tonight. They strung together a series of hits and put some runs on the board and put us back on our heels and we didn't respond enough."
Hazleton 033 110 0 - 8 7 4
Panther Vy. 002 000 1 - 3 4 4
Houser and Johnson; Pecha and Marouchoc. W - Houser. L - Pecha. HR: PV Gurka (3rd, none on).