Palmerton/Towamensing falls short
CONYNGHAM Palmerton/Towamensing had no trouble overcoming a 56-minute rain delay at the start of the District 18 11-12 year-old Little League championship game against Valley West.
Unfortunately, it couldn't overcome a Valley West fourth-inning eruption that seemed to last almost as long.
The big inning erased what appeared to be a comfortable P/T lead and lifted Valley West to an 8-5 victory, capping its undefeated run to the District 18 championship.
"We have 13 great kids and it was a hell of a run," said Palmerton/Towamensing coach Matt Reis. "Valley West is a good team so we knew it was going to be a tough game.
"I thought our kids did a nice job of building an early lead. But Valley West had the one big inning and that was the difference."
The big inning came out of nowhere as Palmerton/Towamensing starting pitcher Luke Eitner took a no-hitter and a 4-0 lead into the fourth.
Valley West not only ended the no-hitter and the shutout in the deciding frame, but also took the lead. By the time the inning was over, Valley West had sent 12 batters to the plate and touched up three P/T pitchers for eight hits and eight runs.
"I told our kids they needed to sit back and stay patient at the plate," said Valley West coach Curtis Pick. "We finally did that in the fourth inning.
"Top to bottom our entire lineup contributed in that inning."
One of the biggest hits came from reserve Alex D'Angelo. After Valley West opened the inning with four straight hits to cut the P/T lead to 4-2 and knock out Eitner, Wade Haydt entered the game. Haydt retired the first batter he faced, but D'Angelo lined a double just inside the right field line to tie the game.
"Definitely Alex's biggest hit of the tournament," said Pick.
But Valley West wasn't finished. After a walk and fly out, the hosts took the lead on a Palmerton/Towamensing error. Brady Antolick's RBI single then made it 6-4 before Chic DeGaetano capped the outburst with a gargantuan two-run homer to left.
"Our pitchers threw strikes," said Reis. "But give Valley West credit, they put the ball in play. They hit some balls hard and found some holes in the fourth inning."
Palmerton/Towamensing, which built its early lead thanks to a two-run homer by Owen Reis in the second inning and RBI singles by Eitner and Cody Waterhouse in the third, added another run in the fifth when Devin Rehrig doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
But that was as close as P/T would get as starting pitcher DeGaetano (14 strike outs) escaped further trouble in the fifth and relief pitcher Antolick struck out the side in the sixth.
"Their starter was the best pitcher we faced in the tournament," said Reis. "But I liked the way our kids battled.
"We did a nice job of hitting some balls hard early in the game to build our lead and even our kids who struck out were getting good, aggressive swings. I'm proud of how we played today and throughout the entire tournament."
P/T 022 010 - 5 7 2
Valley West 000 80x - 8 8 0
Eitner, Haydt (4), Serfass (4), Burnett (5) and Burnett, Rehrig (4); DeGeatano, Antolick (6) and Wolk. W-DeGeatano. L-Haydt. HR - P/T: Reis (2nd, one on). VW: DeGeatano (4th, one on).