Legion Baseball: Orange Falls To Branford 3-2 in 10 Innings

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Jul 022014

IMG_5395By: Matt Gad, Orange Live Legion Reporter

Orange was ready for its third showdown with Branford this year, having gone 0-2 in the previous games. At home on June 19, Orange had nothing going for them, and they ultimately fell 6-0 in a game pitched by Ross Weiner. And more recently, they fell 4-0 to Branford on Monday night.

So, tonight, they wanted revenge. Nick Fusco was on the mound for Post 127, and he got off to a sour start, giving the rival Branford a quick 2-0 advantage.

In the top frame of the 2nd inning, shortstop Josh Sabitsky made an incredible play ranging to his knees and firing to first baseman Chris Winkel for the out. Third baseman Matt Ronai was caught leaning and was picked off trying to steal second in Orange’s half of the second inning.  

Ronai caught a bullet in the top of the third inning. Clearly, the power of the Ronai family was alive and well for Post 127. Or, so we thought. With the locally famous father Jim Ronai looking on in the stands, his younger son also bit the caught stealing bug. Brian Ronai was caught trying to steal second in the very next inning.

Moving forward to the top of the 4th inning, Branford still held to their 2-0 lead. Fusco settled down from there.

Orange’s next big chance to put their first run on the board came in the bottom of the fifth inning, with one man on and Devin Belenski heading to the plate, but, oh, it was to no avail. Later,  shortstop Josh Sabitsky was back, this time in the batter’s box. The shortstop was batting with two on in scoring position, and a single was all Post 127 needed. Orange put their first run up on the scoreboard (Note: the actual scoreboard doesn’t run for the game).

In the bottom of the sixth inning, future University of Hartford center fielder and pitcher, and Orange’s leadoff hitter Sebastian DiMauro got to first base safely after his hit got past Branford’s third baseman.

DiMauro, also known as a base stealer, he did  just that. Almost without a second thought, he was now standing on second base. Orange tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, and it remained that way as the game went into extra innings.

Just like high school, Legion plays seven innings of regulation. This one, however, needed more. The top of the eighth was just when Fusco’s night was done. In a shaky start, he still had managed to control his pitches, and in the end the two runs he gave up were only early on in the first inning.

DiMauro came on to pitch, and got locked into one of his usual zones, there was no problem for the all-around baseball star.

Branford’s fans continued to rave in their section, just as they had done the last time they attended Brinley Field, in their aforementioned 6-0 rout on June 19.

In the top of the ninth inning, Matt Ronai had another thing to do: dodge a broken bat. Sabitsky and Ronai were up with good situations in the bottom of the ninth, but nothing could happen.

Post 127 remained deadlocked at 2-2 heading to the top of the 10th inning. In the third frame of extra innings, Branford grabbed a 3-2 lead and Orange’s fans were heartbroken.

What a game, and what a comeback late only to come up short in a game that ended with the lights on at a now mostly bare Old Tavern Park. When the game started, the place was abuzz with summer baseball and softball all-star teams, but when the legion game ended, it was dark, it was quiet, and Orange was 0-3 against Zone II rival Branford.

Coaches Bob Mirto and Bill Butler weren’t proud of this one’s ending. Still, Orange has on overall record at 12-4, and is 4 games behind undefeated (16-0) Branford.

This weekend, Post 127 celebrates the 4th of July in a tournament in Rhode Island. Then, it’s back Sunday for a doubleheader in East Haven.

Branford Post 83 Beats Orange Post 127 In 7th Inning Rally

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Jul 112013


Orange Live Sports Writer

With 2 outs in the top of the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s American Legion Zone 2 championship showdown between Branford Post 83 and Post 127 of Orange, at Brinley Field, the game was deadlocked at 2-2. Branford’s Alex Pentani was camped on second base after his lead off infield single and a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Chris Stankiewicz.

Kyle Hart stroked a hopper that sailed over the shoulder of Orange second baseman Jake Russo and into center field and Pentani raced home with what proved to be the winning run in Branford’s 3-2 win over Post 127. With the victory in the first of their key 3-game series, Branford’s record improved to 21-1 while Orange dipped to 17-3.  The same 2 teams met tonight in Branford at 5:45 PM in the second game of the series and then return to Brinley Field Thursday night at 7 in the series finale.

“This was a tough loss, but the game was just what I had expected,” Post 127 Coach Bob Mirto said. “I had a feeling that the team that played the best defense, would win.”

After 3 scoreless innings, Post 83 right fielder Nick Perrelli ripped a shot that shortstop Keith Klebart found too hot to handle. Pitcher Ben Criscuolo stepped in and took matters into his own hands as he and lined a Same Nepiarsky pitch over the left center field fence to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. Following Criscuolo’s 2-run blast, Tyler Forgione walked and Standewicz stroked a 2-out single, but Nepiarsky  avoided further damage by retiring Tyler Criscuolo on an inning-ending ground ball to second base.

Branford blew a golden opportunity to grab an early lead, loading the bases with no out of in the top of the second inning but failed to score a run. Consecutive base hits by Perrelli and Ben Criscuolo followed by a free pass to Greg Zullo loaded the bases. Nepiarsky retired Forgione on a fly ball to shallow right field and then got Pentani to bang into an inning-ending double play.

Still hitless and trailing 2-0 when it came to bat in the bottom of the fifth, Orange came to life when R.J. Moquet drew a lead-off walk, Justin Ashworth spanked a base hit up the middle, and Mike Appel walked to fill the bases with no one out. When Ben Criscuolo also gave Paul Gusmano a base on balls, he forced home Moquet with Post 127’s first run. Sean Beaulieu topped infield roller that he beat out, sent Ashworth home with the game-tying tally.

With the bases still loaded with no one out, Orange hopes for a bigger inning soon faded as Klebart was retired on an infield pop-fly and Jake Russo raped  into an  inning-ending twin killing.

According to Mirto, “Both teams had no out and the bases loaded but failed to score, but I think ours was tougher to take.  We had just come back to tie the game and still had the bases loaded but failed to do a thing with that opportunity.”

With a deep sigh he added, “Tomorrow is another day,”

Nepiarsky (now 4-1) went the distance and is charged with the loss. He gave up 3 runs (2 earned runs) on 6 hits, walking 4 Branford batters and striking out 2.The victory ups Criscuolo’s mark to 5-0 as he was charged with 2 runs on only 2 hits. He whiffed 5 and walked 6 Orange batters.

“Sam threw a good game, but we won’t win many games getting only 2 hits.” Mirto added.