MILFORD >> As the weather gets hotter, the games on the American Legion schedule seem to gain more importance. With a three-game set against a scrappy Milford team this weekend, Orange Post 127 was looking to start on the right foot in the opening game of a doubleheader Saturday morning.
Behind the pitching of Mike Appel and the hitting of Chris Winkel and Josh Sabitsky, Post 127 rolled to a 14-2 win over Milford Post 196 in a game halted after five innings due to the mercy rule.
“We can hit,” Orange coach Bob Mirto said after his team improved to 10-2. “But, there are also times when we only score a few runs. We got that early lead and I think that really helped today.”
The first game of the doubleheader at Ken Walker Field at Foran High saw Appel shut down Milford without a hit for three innings. With Orange up by 14 runs, Appel was lifted and replaced by Matt Ronai in the fourth.
“It (quick start) instantly took the pressure off,” Appel said after he struck out four. “It allowed me to relax and throw strikes. I was focused on getting my front leg up and pushing off on my right foot. I had some ankle troubles. I broke my ankle and I am trying to get the strength back.”
Appel was given all the run support he needed in the first two innings as Orange led 3-0 after one inning and 7-0 after two.
Milford starting pitcher Adam Antonini ran into immediate trouble, hitting Sebastian DiMauro to lead off the game and allowing a single to Winkel and a double to Anthony Capozziello for a 2-0 lead. Capozziello scored on a wild pitch for a 3-0 edge.
“He’s young,” Milford coach Cliff Bugyi said of Antonini after his team fell to 6-8. “We have to work on our pitching. The problem is we play every day, Monday will be our first day off in nine days.”
Orange put the game away in the second with four more runs. Brian Ronai and Zach Chamberlain singled with one out and DiMauro was hit by another pitch to load the bases.
Winkel’s second hit scored Brian Ronai for a 4-0 edge and Capozziello reached on an error to score two more runs. Winkel scored on a double steal to increase the margin to 7-0.
“We took advantage of our opportunities out there,” Mirto said. “This is a good start. We know Branford is always good and there are some tough teams. It all comes down to pitching.”
Appel’s only trouble came in the third inning when he hit Cheech Giustino and Jim Palmer with two outs and walked Kevin Johnson to load the bases. Appel escaped without any damage, getting R.J. Jackson to pop to first to end the threat.
“What little opportunities we had, we did not hit the ball,” Bugyi said. “We did not hit well.”
Orange took a commanding lead with seven more runs in the fourth inning. Devin Belenski singled to score Winkel, Gerald Farace walked to force in a run, Sabitsky and Brian Ronai had run-scoring singles and two more runs scored on wild pitches.
Milford finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth off Matt Ronai when Sean Clark delivered Bob Auger with a fielder’s choice and Giustino singled to right to score Clark.
Winkel had three hits and drove in a run, while Sabitsky also had three hits and drove in a run. Capozziello added to the 14-hit attack with two hits and two RBIs, while Brian Ronai had two hits and drove in another.
Milford made things much closer in the second game, but Orange won 3-2 to complete the sweep.