Manager Keith Soldra “I want every player recognized, the accomplishments of every boy played a role in our success.”
Congratulations Orange Little League 11 District Allstars Team members: Jacob Crow; Ben Daddio; Christian DÁstous; Dylan Gherlone; Sebastian Holt; Owen Leszczak; Colby O’Connor; AJ Soldra; Drew Visnic; Charlie Windsor and Martin Zhang Manager Keith Soldra, Coaches Mike Visnic & Jim Windsor
A Rundown of this year’s accomplishments:
June 30, 2015 – Orange 8, Milford National 4
July 2, 2015- Orange 16, West Haven 9
July 6, 2015 -Orange 11, Hamden 0
July 8, 2015- Orange 26, North Branford 3
July 9, 2015- Orange 11, Hamden 0
District 4 Championship July 11, 2015
Orange 12, West Haven 2
2015 Division 1 Pool Play
July 18, 2015 Orange 8, Stamford North 5
July 19, 2015 Orange 8, Monroe 7
2015 Division 1 Championship Game:
July 21, 2015 Orange 9, Stamford North 2
2015 Section 1 Championship Game:
July 23, 2015 Orange 5, Berlin 2
Orange pitcher, Owen Leszczak retired the first six Berlin batters he faced. While, Drew Visnic staked Orange to a 1-0 lead on a leadoff homerun in the home half of the 1st. In the 2nd, Christian D’Astous reached on an error and Martin Zhang walked to start the inning. Leszczak’s 2-run double put Orange back in front 3-0.
However, Berlin was able to get something going against Leszczak in the 3rd. After striking out the first batter of the inning, Leszczak hit the next two. The next batter flew out to Colby O’Connor at second base. A walk loaded the bases with two out. Berlin’s next batter smacked a double to the fence. Two runs were in, a third was on the way.
Charlie Windsor, playing right field, made a perfect relay throw to O’Connor, who gunned it to catcher Jacob Crow covering home to erase the runner at the plate and end the inning. Berlin was only down a run, trailing 3-2.
Holt would push the lead to 4-2 on a solo homerun in the 3rd. Leszczak held Berlin scoreless in the next two frames, surrendering just one hit.
Orange tacked on a run in the 5th on Ben Daddio’s RBI single. O’Connor came on the pitch the top of the 6th for Orange to record the save.
He retired Berlin’s 3-4-5 hitters in order on just 11 pitches. Leszczak pitched 5-innings, allowing just two hits and struck out six for the win.
Orange was crowned Section 1 Champion and earned a spot in the State Championship Series against Section 2 Champion, Tolland, in a best-of-three series.
2015 Connecticut Championship Series:
July 26, 2015 GAME 1: Orange 5, Tolland 3
With rain possible, Orange manager, Keith Soldra, decided to push his ace, Sebastian Holt, back and gave Martin Zhang the start on the mound instead. It was a risky move but it was a decision the manager felt comfortable making. Zhang had thrown well in previous starts and deserved the opportunity.
After striking out the leadoff batter, it looked like the move was a good one. However, the next batter doubled and advanced to third on a ground out to Sebastian Holt playing third base. A single up the middle plated a run and Tolland led 1-0 after half an inning of play.
Orange was retired in order in the home half. Zhang’s second inning of work did not get off to a good start. The leadoff batter walked. Tolland decided to play “small ball”. A sacrifice bunt moved the lead runner to second base. The next Tolland batter also bunted. Zhang fielded the ball in front of the mound and made an errant throw to first that went up the right field line. One run scored.
The batter advanced to second base. Tolland again bunted. Holt fielded and fired to first to retire the batter. The runner on second broke for third on the throw. First baseman, AJ Soldra attempting to cut the runner down, threw the ball away. The runner scored and Tolland was ahead 3-0.
After a single and a walk, Zhang was able to get a groundout to second baseman, Colby O’Connor to end the inning. Orange was again retired in order in the home half of the 2nd inning. Tolland’s pitcher was brilliant through two innings, keeping Orange’s potent offense at bay by pitching backwards. He was using his breaking ball early in the count to set up his fastball. Orange was unable to hit anything hard halfway through the contest.
Zhang settled down over the next two frames, striking out three of the seven batters he faced. Orange was finally able to get some offense going in the 3rd. With one out, O’Connor singled. Visnic followed with a double to plate O’Connor. Soldra also singled, putting runners on first and third. Jacob Crow’s fielder’s choice to short plated Visnic. Orange cut Tolland’s lead to 3-2.
Both teams were held scoreless in the 4th inning. Colby O’Connor came in to pitch for Orange in the 5th. O’Connor retired Tolland in order.
With Tolland’s pitcher starting to tire, Orange pounced. O’Connor’s walk and three singles by Visnic, Crow, and Holt plated three runs. Orange jumped ahead 5-3. The Orange manager, decided to roll the dice again. Not wanting to burn O’Connor for Game 2 of the series, he brought in Sebastian Holt to pitch. But, he would not push him past 20-pitches.
Holt was going to start Game 2. Holt didn’t have his usual command of the strike zone. He allowed a leadoff single to start the inning. After two strikeouts, a catcher’s interference, and a walk, Tolland had the bases loaded. With two out, Holt had reached his limit of pitches and Orange manager, Keith Soldra, had to make a move. He called on shortstop, Drew Visnic.
Visnic had pitched sparingly in the Post Season, but he had something Tolland hadn’t seen all evening….A curveball. With bases loaded, and the game on the line, Tolland’s #3 hitter stepped into the batter’s box. Orange is a power-pitching team and Tolland had seen fastballs all evening. Visnic’s first pitch a beautiful curveball for strike one. Visnic’s next pitch, also a curveball, was weakly grounded back to the mound. Visnic fielded and fired to first.
Game 1 was in the books. Orange took a 1-0 series lead.
July 27, 2015 GAME 2: Orange 15, Tolland 4
Orange went down in order to start the 1st inning. Orange ace, Sebastian Holt, followed suit setting Tolland down 1-2-3 in the bottom half. Holt would lead off the 2nd inning with a double for Orange.
Dylan Gherlone, playing right field, struck out before Christian D’Astous worked a walk. D’Astous stole second without a throw, putting runners second and third. Ben Daddio’s RBI ground out to second plated Holt and Orange was up 1-0.
Holt surrendered a double to Tolland in the home half, but two consecutive bunts back to the pitcher ended the threat. Orange was set down in order in the 3rd. Tolland was able to scratch a run across in the bottom half of the 3rd. The first two batters were hit-by-pitch. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third with no outs. An RBI groundout to Daddio at third knotted the score at 1-1.
Holt regained command. A one-out ground ball back to the mound, forced the lead runner to stay at third. Now, with two out, Holt produced another groundout to third that ended the inning. Orange’s offense would erupt in the 4th inning. Crow singled. Holt walked. Gherlone doubled. Charlie Windsor singled. Daddio singled. Leszczak singled. O’Connor walked.
Seven straight batters reached base and six runs scored, before Drew Visnic groundout out to first. The last blow of the inning would come off the bat of AJ Soldra, who launched a 2-run bomb to centerfield. The 8-run inning gave Orange a commanding, 9-1 lead after Holt set Tolland down in order to end the 4th inning. Orange was able to load the bases in the visitor’s half of the 5th, but couldn’t push a run across.
Tolland wasn’t throwing in the towel just yet. After sandwiching a walk between two strikeouts, Tolland was able to touch Holt for a single and a 3-run homerun to cut the Orange lead to 9-4 after five innings. Orange, as they had done all post season, answered.
Holt lead off with a double. Gherlone reached on an error. D’Astous laced an RBI single up the middle with two strikes. Daddio singled, but was cut down between first and second, for the first out of the inning. Leszczak and O’Connor both reached base. Visnic singled and Soldra walked, before Crow drove a 2-run single to the fence. Crow was cut down trying to stretch the single into a double, for the second out.
Holt, who started the rally was retired on a screaming line-drive back to the pitcher. Holt would close the door on Tolland in the home 6th. He struck out the first batter looking. The second batter grounded out to Daddio at third. The final out landed in the outstretched glove of center fielder, Owen Lesczak, as he approached the outfield fence.
The celebration was on. Game over….Series over.
Orange wins Game 2.
Orange had completed the magical run.
Orange was the 2015 10-11 Connecticut State Champions.