BERWICK - After an opening-round loss, Shamokin-Mount Carmel Little League all-stars battled back.

And as a reward the 12-year-old team nearly made it all the way back to the District 13 Area I championship game.

The only thing standing in their way was defending district champ South Columbia.

That was a formidable hurdle and the defending champs downed up-and-comer Shamokin-Mount Carmel 5-4 Wednesday at Berwick's Ber-Vaughn Park.

The game included a bit of everything - dominant pitching, big hits and a call that should have had instant replay available.

S-MC pounded out six hits and had a 4-2 lead, but the biggest hit came from South Columbia's Julian Fleming, who connected on a two-run home run in the fifth inning that swung momentum back their way.

With that two-run lead, Shamokin-Mount Carmel opted to go right at Fleming with its strength, starting pitcher John Ayres.

With one on, Fleming sent a 1-0 pitch over the centerfield fence.

"We wanted to challenge (Fleming)," Shamokin-Mount Carmel coach Chris Carpenter said. "We wanted to challenge John, too. He's a great young man and in all aspects of the game he's 100 percent there. We wanted to go at him, and (Fleming) hit a good ball."

That pitch, however, came after a nearly 20-minute delay during Shamokin-Mount Carmel's half of the inning.

Here's the setup: with the bases loaded, Tommy Reisinger hit a ground ball to the South Columbia shortstop. The fielder bobbled the ball, then with S-MC's Noah Berkoski running past, tried to apply a tag and throw home.

The initial call on the field was that Berkoski interfered with both the fielding of the ball and the throw home, negating the run that had scored and ending Shamokin-Mount Carmel's inning.

Then things got wild. The umpires seemingly couldn't agree on the call, then being challenged by both coaching staffs. They went back and forth. A fan was ejected by the home plate umpire, and more than a few other fans offered their opinions. At one point one of the umpires left to consult a rule book. In the end, the delay was too lengthy (20 minutes) for the call that was made - that Berkoski merely interfered with the fielder. He was called out, but the run scored to give S-MC its 4-2 lead.

While the adults cooled off, so did the respective pitchers.

"I think it hurt in the end," Carpenter said of the delay. "It let John cool off and when you get up around 65 pitches and sit for as long as he had to wait, it hurts."

Ayres gave up two more hits and a walk after that and allowed the winning run to score.

The Shamokin-Mount Carmel hurler deserved a better fate, especially after striking out eight and hitting his limit with 88 pitches.

"We were thinking of pulling at 65 in case we had another game," Carpenter said. "Then it was a game-time decision that we thought we'd ride our horse to get past them. We felt that with the rest of our pitchers, we could manage the rest of the way through. He definitely was our No. 1 guy."

S-MC got big offensive contributions from Logan Wills, who doubled twice, and Jacob Carpenter, who singled, tripled and scored twice.

"We came to hit today and we put the bat on the ball," Carpenter said. "We had a couple scenarios that we were switching guys in and out, and it seemed to work. It was one of those games where things went the way we thought it would go and we just ended up on the losing end. I'm proud of every one of these guys."

Game Summary

SHAMOKIN-MOUNT CARMEL (AB-R-H-BI) - Wills 3-0-2-1, Ayres 4-0-0-0, Chapman 3-1-0-0, Wetzel 2-0-0-0, Herb 1-0-0-0, Klokis 3-0-1-0, Carpenter 2-2-2-0, Reisinger 3-1-1-1, Rollman 2-0-0-0, Evert 1-0-0-0, Berkoski 0-0-0-0, Dimmick 1-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-6-2.

SOUTH COLUMBIA (AB-R-H-BI) - Fleming 3-2-1-2, Petro 3-0-1-2, Miller 3-1-1-1, Gensenmer 3-0-0-0, Gregory 2-0-1-0, Stamatedes 3-0-1-1, Schecterly 1-0-0-0, Coombe 1-0-0-0, Mungo 1-0-1-0, Bradley 1-0-0-0, Zachman 1-1-0-0, Stauffer 0-1-0-0. Totals 22-5-6-6.

Extra-base hits: 2B - Wills 2. 3B - Carpenter. HR - Fleming.

IP H R ER BB K

Shamokin-Mount Carmel

Ayres (L) 5 6 5 4 3 8

South Columbia

Fleming 3 3 1 1 2 4

Stamatedes 1.1 3 3 3 1 3

Petro (W) 1.2 0 0 0 1 1