In a summer season which encompasses 30 games in just over 30 days, it is good to get a break. That break can also bring a team together.
With the second half of the American Legion schedule set to begin, Orange Post 127 has taken its rest period to a different level for the fifth-straight year.
Looking for some team bonding, Post 127 traveled to Providence, R.I. for the holiday weekend where it will play teams from all over the region in a tournament format in the Firecracker Invitational.
“The team bonding is really why we come here,” Orange coach Bob Mirto said. “We get to get away and have fun. Providence is a fun place to go. There is a lot to do. It is a good time for everyone.”
Leaving to go north with a 12-4 record, Orange has taken the opportunity to try different players in different positions, most notably on the mound. While the results were not there Thursday morning against Senerchia Post 74 of Rhode Island, Mirto got a little more experienced on the hill in a 4-3 nine-inning loss.
Mike Appel, who is still getting stronger from his ankle injury, started and pitched three innings before Doug Rives went three more. After Sebastian DiMauro worked two innings, Eric Class pitched the ninth to suffer the loss.
“Today was a good game,” Mirto said. “It went nine innings. They came back to score two in the last inning. It was a good game, a great game actually.
“(Doug) Rives was unhittable in his three innings. He did not give up any hits. His slider was really good.”
With the game even at two entering the ninth inning, Orange took a 3-2 lead. Devin Belenski opened the ninth with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice by Gerald Farace and scored on Josh Sabitsky’s single to right.
With the closer DiMauro having already thrown 20 pitches, Mirto went to Class to start the ninth. Rob Henry drove Class’ second pitch of the inning to center for a single and two pitches later, Nick Boland doubled to center to score Henry with the equalizer.
After Ed Markowski was walked, Andrew Ciacciarelli reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing Boland at third. Brady Chant then ended the contest in walk-off fashion as his double to right scored Markowski with the winner.
“The kid (Chant) just hit a bomb to right,” Mirto said.
Senerchia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off Appel as John Willette reached on an error, Kevin Sutyla singled and Henry walked to load the bases. Boland’s sacrifice fly scored Willette for the early lead.
Post 127 stranded a pair of runners in the third after Brian Ronai and DiMauro singled, before Senerchia increased the lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the inning when Willette scored on a passed ball.
Orange climbed back into the contest in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a Senerchia error. Matt Ronai reached on an error to lead off the inning, stole second, moved to third on Belenski’s grounder to second and scored on Farace’s sacrifice fly.
“We had some big players come up big,” Mirto said. “Both Winkel’s (Chris and Pat) are being looked at. There are a lot of kids being looked at by college coaches up here.”
Post 127 evened the game in the fifth with a two-out rally. DiMauro started the rally with a single and moved to third on a single by Appel. Chris Winkel followed with the third straight single to plate DiMauro with the equalizer.
DiMauro allowed singles in the seventh and eighth innings, but escaped both with a fly out and ground out in the seventh and a double play in the eighth.
Appel, Winkel, Sabitsky and DiMauro each had a pair of hits, with Winkel and Sabitsky each driving in a run.
Appel allowed two unearned runs in three innings of work. He walked two, struck out two and allowed two hits while throwing 62 pitches.
“(Mike) Appel started and went three innings,” Mirto said. “The URI coaches were looking at him. It is good to be up here.”
Rives threw 33 pitches, striking out four and walking one in three innings of work. He did not allow a hit. Class allowed three hits and two runs in less than an inning of work.
Chant and Willette each had two hits for Senerchia, with Willette scoring twice and Chant driving in one run.
Kyle Barbato started for Post 74, allowing six hits and one earned run in 4 2/3 innings of work. Sutyla finished and picked up the win in relief.