HAMDEN – With the success of both the Hamden and Amity baseball programs this past spring, it will come as no surprise if the Hamden and Orange American Legion baseball teams are battling for the top spots in Zone II when the summer season comes to a close.
The first battle of the two teams took place Saturday morning and, despite each team missing key players, the contest was as close as expected.
Eli Camner’s one-out, two-run, walk-off double gave Hamden Post 88 a 4-3 victory over Orange Post 127 in the first game of a doubleheader at Rochford Field in Hamden. The win was Hamden’s fifth in a row and helped Post 88 improve to 7-3, while Orange saw its seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 7-4.
“It was all about getting to the next guy,” Camner said of his final at bat. “Luke (D’Ostilio) was up next and he has been swinging a hot bat. I knew if I didn’t get it done, he would. I just wanted to hit it hard somewhere.”
Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, Hamden’s winning rally started when Andrew Kirschenbaum drew a one-out walk and moved to third when Trevor Brandi’s sacrifice attempt was thrown away.
With two runners in scoring position, Camner ripped a liner to the gap in right center, scoring Kirschenbaum and Brandi for the opening win of the day.
“This is a nice win for us,” Hamden coach Ray Guarino said. “It’s a good win. It’s our fifth in a row. I like the way we are playing. The first couple of weeks you have people who are not used to playing with each other. This is a close group of guys. They hang out together off the field. They enjoy being together.
“Eli (Camner) came up with a big hit there. We were able to get the bunt down with Trevor Brandi to set it up and Eli gets the hit. It’s a nice win.”
The loss erased what was a solid effort by Orange’s Max Scheps, who allowed seven hits, while walking one and striking out seven. Scheps threw 102 pitches.
“I think he was getting a little tired at the end,” Orange coach Bob Mirto said of Scheps. “He was still throwing well. We misplayed some balls and that ended up hurting us. Those things happen.”
Scheps needed a solid effort as he was matched against Hamden’s Anthony Sitro. The Hamden lefty limited Orange to six hits, while striking out three and walking two.
Sitro had a 2-0 lead until Orange rallied with two outs in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead. Rohan Patel led off the Orange sixth by reaching on an error and Pat Winkel followed with a walk.
With two on, Sitro looked as if he would escape without any damage as he retired the next two batters. Hamden’s second error of the inning allowed Patel to score and put a pair of runners in scoring position for Ron LoRicco, who promptly laced a single to center, scoring a pair and giving Orange a 3-2 lead.
Hamden struck first in the contest, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Scheps. With one out, Camner singled to center, stole second and scored on Luke D’Ostilio’s double to left center. After a passed ball moved D’Ostilio to third, Austin Defilippo singled to right to put Post 88 on top 2-0.
Sitro did the rest through five innings as he helped himself in the third, using his bare hand to throw out Winkel to end the inning with two on base. Sitro also escaped without any damage in the seventh when he got Patel to line into an inning-ending double play with Dave Kennedy in scoring position.
“I was just trying to get outs,” Sitro said. “I was able to mix up my pitches and mixed in my off speed. This feels good, knowing they are one of the best teams in the zone.”
Hamden’s only other threat came in the fourth as Post 88 had two on with one out, but Scheps got Brian Hawes on a grounder to third and Kirschenbaum on a grounder to short.
Camner and Defilippo led Hamden with two hits apiece, with Camner driving in a pair and Defilippo knocking in one. Lou DeGennero and Patel each had a pair of hits in the loss for Orange.