An overflow crowd jammed the stands and packed the foul lines this past weekend at Carlton Drake Memorial Park in Newfoundland.
More than 200 dedicated fans donned their shades and slathered on the sun screen for Saturday's District 32 10U tournament battle between the local lads of Wallenpaupack Area and the visitors from Archbald.
At stake was a trip to the winners bracket semis for the victors, while the vanquished would spiral down into the losers' bracket finals.
Much to the delight of the hometown fans, Paupack raced out to a big early lead in this one. Coach Dave Smith's squad scored seven runs in the opening two innings, but then the bats inexplicably fell silent.
Archbald roared back, plating 10 unanswered runs until Paupack tallied once more in its final at-bat.
Alas, that rally proved too little, too late as the young Bucks suffered their first loss of the tournament by a score of 10-8.
"That's kind of been the story for us right from the start," Coach Smith told The News Eagle. "We're a very streaky team. We score runs in bunches or we don't score them at all."
On the heels of this loss, Paupack was scheduled for a road trip to the Electric City and an elimination game with Carbino Club.
"They're a good team, so we'll have to be a lot more consistent is we want to beat them," said Coach Smith.
"This is a good group of kids and they've been playing great. I'm hoping this was just a bump in the road here today."
Stay tuned to the News Eagle for continuing coverage of this year's D-32 Little League tournament.
On the Attack
Paupack wasted no time in going on the offensive against Archbald starting pitcher Duke Stafursky.
Page 2 of 3 - Dieter Burkes ignited the first rally by being hit with a pitch. Moments later, he was joined on the bases by Wyatt Peifer who walked.
Stafusky bore down and retired the next two batters, but Paupack then proceeded to plate four runs with two down.
Alex Gardsy smoked an RBI double, then came in to score himself thanks to a Tyler Rose base knock.
When Mabret Levant followed with a two-bagger of his own, Paupack's lead was 4-0 and Stafusky headed to the showers.
Andrew Duffy came on in relief and finally retired the side on a fielder's choice grounder.
Archbald struck back in the bottom half of the frame with two runs, but Paupack went on the attack again in the top of the second.
Burckes was awarded first base on catcher's interference. Dieter then swiped second and took third on a wild pitch. This set the stage for Peifer and Izaiah Santiago, who each ripped RBI singles.
Two errors later, another run came home and Paupack found itself on the long end of a 7-2 score.
To their undying credit, the boys from Archbald refused to wilt in the face of this offensive assault.
The visitors tallied four times in the second, thanks in large part to a 2-run double off the bat of clean-up man TJ Noto.
Levant was done after this frame, but left with a chance to earn the win with a razor-thin 7-6 lead.
Peifer came on in relief and seemed to have things under control as he struck out the side in the third.
However, Duffy also dazzled on the mound. The fireballing lefty didn't allow another run until the sixth inning, at which point he was relieved by Ryan Cesarini.
Page 3 of 3 - Archbald capitalized on serveral Paupack fielding miscues in the middle innings, plating four unearned runs and taking a 10-8 lead.
Coach Smith's squad did stage one last rally, but it came up just a bit short.
Jack Smith beat out an infield single to lead off the final frame. Brett Strong also reached base, but then Cesarini dug down deep.
Archbald's closer retired Paupack's 1-2-3 hitters in order to close out the game and seal the deal on a wild 10-8 victory.
"It's our own fault," said Coach Smith. "We don't have anybody to blame but ourselves. We gave away a bunch of runs; but, the key is to shake it off and focus on the next one.
"We definitely have to turn the page on this game and get ready for Carbino."
Score by Innings...
WAL (5-1) 4 3 0 0 0 1 - 8
ARC (5-0) 2 4 0 2 2 x - 10