Wild finish lifts Anthracite/Lansford
Anthracite/Lansford players get ready to congratulate teammate Nico Bochicchio (70) after he hit a home run Friday during the District 18 Little League tournament. Anthracite/Lansford defeated Towamensing by a 5-4 score in eight innings. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Mason George of Towamensing slides home while covering the bag is Anthracite pitcher Brody Breiner. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Brady Jones barreled into third base, eying home.
Anthracite/Lansford mentor Wally Breiner hesitated.
Then Jones fell.
The chain reaction that followed sent Anthracite/Lansford to a 5-4 win over Towamensing in eight innings Friday night in the District 18 10-12-Year-Old Little League Tournament.
Staring down the distance between what was the tying run and the possible end of their title hopes, Jones gathered himself after slipping rounding third base on a single off the bat of Logan Fisher.
As he headed home, the throw back to the plate got away, allowing Jones to score to tie it. Brennan Kunkle took advantage of the opportunity, navigating through the chaos around home plate on the final play to score the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
“I joked with Brady (Jones) there, I said that was a good decoy, when you were falling down there,” Breiner said with a laugh. “I don’t know, he’s a fast runner, and with the wet conditions and the rain today, he went down.
“And then when they missed the throw, he got in there. And then Brennan Kunkle is probably our fastest kid behind him, and he was right behind him. We’re a pretty aggressive team, and we remained aggressive there.”
With the game still tied at 2-2 after the seventh inning, international tiebreaker rules went into effect for the eighth, meaning each team had a runner on second base to start the inning.
Towamensing scored twice in the top of the inning on a wild pitch and an error to go ahead 4-2.
But Anthracite/Lansford answered. Jones delivered a one-out single to plate runner Connor Penberth, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Kunkle reached on an error, putting two runners on for Fisher, who singled to right field, sending Jones and Kunkle racing home.
“I was in between, (yelling) ‘Back, back, back!’ And then, ‘Go!’” said Breiner. “I’ll tell you what, it just flashed really quick, and I guess just being aggressive, I told him to go.”
Towamensing built an early lead in the top of the first. A fielder’s choice from Mason George scored Luke Matsko, and a groundout by Cameron Pengelly plated Ashton Lesher to give Towamensing 2-0 advantage.
Anthracite got a run back in the bottom of the third when Eli Maynard scored on a wild pitch, and tied the game when Nico Bochicchio launched a solo blast over the right field fence in the top of the fourth.
The defense and pitching was solid on both sides, keeping the contest close.
Anthracite had the bases loaded with no outs in the third, but Towamensing starter AJ Borger worked out of trouble and allowed just one run.
Reliver Chase Krynock got a strikeout to leave runners stranded at second and third in the top of the fourth inning for Anthracite to keep it a one-run game before Bochicchio’s homer tied it.
Towamensing broke through in the top of the eighth. With Borger on second to start the inning, George singled, and advanced to second sending Berger to third.
After back-to-back strikeouts, Borger (who fanned eight) came around to score on a wild pitch, and George followed when the ball got away to give Towamensing a 4-2 lead.
That was all Towamensing would get, as Anthracite surged ahead in the bottom of the inning.
“Our guys, we fought hard through this whole tournament,” Towamensing coach Matt George said. “They’re a good group of kids. The thing is, you have to learn from your losses. That’s what we try to do. You can’t win them all.
“That’s a good team, we’re a good team. We’ve played them during the regular season. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming up here. We tried to take advantage of the opportunities we had, and they did the same thing.”
MOVING ON … Anthracite stays alive in the tournament with the win, and will play Jim Thorpe on Sunday. Towamensing will host Tri-County in a consolation game on Tuesday. “If we continue to play team baseball, and pitch to contact, not worrying about striking people out, and continue to field the way we are, I think we’re going to be tough to beat,” Breiner said.
HELPING HANDS … A number of coaches chipped in to help get the field ready after heavy rain moved through the area. The start of the game occurred not long after the scheduled 6 p.m.
CORRECTION … In Thursday’s Times News, Towamensing Mason George was incorrectly identified as Nathan George. The Times News regrets the error, and apologizes for the mistake.
Towamensing 200 000 02 - 4 3 2
Anthracite 001 100 03 - 5 6 1
Borger, Pengelly (5) and Lesher; Breiner, Krynock (4), Jones (7), Caffery (8) and Penberth. W - Caffery. L - Pengelly. HR: Anthracite - Bochicchio (4th, none on).