The 2013 American Legion baseball season has been a trying one for the Back Mountain program.
Back Mountain’s Senior Legion team began working on changing that with consecutive wins June 16 and 17.
After losing its first seven Wyoming Valley League games, Back Mountain pounded opponents on consecutive days, climbing out of the cellar and past both teams into ninth place in the 11-team league.
Back Mountain remains winless within the league on the Legion Prep level and has a losing record in the Youth Legion league.
Injuries have contributed to the tough start.
Brian Stepniak, the leading hitter and leading pitcher on a winning team last year and a major contributor on a championship squad in 2011, has not played. The recent Dallas High School graduate and University of Hartford recruit is not playing this summer because of a wrist injury on his pitching arm.
Pat Condo, a fourth-year team member who just finished his first year at Wilkes after graduating from Holy Redeemer, has taken over as the team’s most effective pitcher. He got the team’s first win on the mound.
Greg Petorak, Nigel Stearns, Deep Patel, Dylan Pilger, Jon Strausser and Connor Balloun are also back.
Stearns is batting better than .400 to lead the team. Nick Oley, who has a team-high five RBI in nine games, and Strausser are both over .300.
Scott Bean has been the team’s workhorse pitcher while Condo has the best earned run average at 1.11.
After losing the opener of a Father’s Day doubleheader to Mountain Post A, 4-1, at Misericordia last Sunday, Back Mountain posted its first victory with a 9-0 win in the second game.
Back Mountain made it two straight with a 10-0 romp over West Side Monday at Misericordia.
“We’re hitting better and we’re playing better defense, too,” sasid manager Tom Evans.
Two straight shutouts also showed progress from the pitching staff.
“A couple of our pitchers have been injured,” Evans said. “Now that we have Nigel Stearns back pitching, that will help.”
Condo threw a two-hitter shutout with seven strikeouts in the first victory.
Back Mountain finished off West Side in five innings when Stearns and Balloun combined on the two-hit shutout. Stearns struck out seven in three innings while Balloun struck out two over the final two.
Stearns also had four hits in the win over Mountain Post A when Balloun drove in three runs and Oley drove in two.
Strausser, who scored three times, and Oley, who drove in two runs, had three hits each against West Side. Petorak drove in two runs and scored two while Patel had two hits and two runs.
The weather has disrupted the schedule at times for the Youth Legion team that started 3-5 under manager Leo Orlandini.
The Prep Legion team is managed by Jay Strausser.