By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Despite the absence of 5 starters (Vin Siena and Sean Butler—summer school, Chris Katz—strained groin muscle, Paul Gusmano—college orientation, and Grayson Amoroso—ill) Orange Post 127 utilized its considerable team depth to defeat Post 89 of East Haven Monday night under the lights at Brinley Field. With the win, Orange swept its 3 game summer series with the 89ers; recorded its 12th win in a row; and upped its first place record to 18-3.
Without any hesitation winning Coach Bob Mirto pointed to his 16 year old right hander, Nick Fusco as the hero of the game. He not only went the distance, allowing 2 runs on only 4 hits, but he struck out 10 and did not walk a batter. Fusco is now 5-0—with the best pitching record on the team. Amazingly, he is only arising junior who is yet to pitch an inning of varsity baseball for Amity.
According to Mirto, “I am surprised with what I’ve seen from Nick. I’ve never met a 16 year old who understands the art of pitching and winning like Nick does. He pitches as if he had years of experience. In addition to being very smart on the mound, he has great control, has real pop on his pitches, and is very confident in his own abilities. He went all 7innings tonight and threw only 76 pitches. When he gets bigger and stronger, he will be unhittable.”
He added, “It’s fun to watch Matt Ronai play shortstop. He’s also young kid but he’s going to be a great player when he gets older.”
The game was deadlocked at 2-2 when Post 127 came to bat in the bottom of the third inning. With 1 out, Mike Boland’s drive to left field was dropped by Mike Anastasio. When East Haven hurler Kyle Lockery airmailed a pickoff throw by first baseman Brandon Gargiulo, Boland raced over to second base. Shortly thereafter, he scooted home on Ted Ballou’s single deep into the hole.
The score remained 3-2 thanks to stellar hurling by Fusco and sturdy Orange defense. In addition to Fusco’s 5 strike outs over the last 4 innings, The winners turned a crisp double play to thwart an 89er threat in the top of the fifth inning. Post 127 had previously pulled off a twin killing to end the third inning.
Still leading 3-2, Orange came to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning. With 1out, Brian Speer and designated hitter Mike Concato legged out an infield roller. When shortstop Andrew Hackley’s throw skipped past Gargiulo, both runners moved up a base. With both runners in scoring position and running on the pitch, Nial Dimmando slapped a 2-run infield single. After hitting Matt Fox and Matt Ronai with pitches, Lockery served up a 2-run double to Boland.
Even though he has no varsity high school experience, Fusco insisted that he was not surprised with what he has accomplished for Post 127 this summer.
He said, “I work as hard as I can and come here to win every day. I usually do have good control. I throw a 2 and a 4 seamer but the change-up is my best pitch. I really wasn’t worried when they tied the game 2-2 in the top of the second inning. I was confident that I would keep East Haven from scoring again and that our offense would score more runs.”
Orange tallied 2 quick runs off Lockery in the bottom of the first inning. Ronai led off with a base hit up the middle. He moved up a base when Boland drew a free pass and scored on Nick Baviello’s 2-bagger into the left-center field gap. After Boland was thrown out trying to score on Ted Ballou’s chop down the third base line, Ballou was erased on Speer’s fielder’s choice but Baviello would soon score on that play.
The 89ers (now 13-8 with 4 consecutive losses), tied the game in the top of the third inning. With 1out, Gargiulo swatted a base hit into left field. Gary Flowers, who had whiffed 3 times in Friday night’s loss to the Mirtomen, followed with a game-trying 2-run blast over the left center field fence.
“I beat him all night, striking him out twice, but I left a pitch up too high and he put it out,” said Fusco.
Mirto conceded that prior to the game, he was concerned about missing 5 starters, but then added, “We still won tonight and that’s a credit to our overall team depth. I have faith in all the kids on our roster. We didn’t get a lot of hits tonight (7) but I wasn’t worried. Even when the game was tied, I knew Nick (Fusco) was pitching and he hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in any game and I also knew we’d score a few more runs.”
Orange visits second place Branford (13-4) Tuesday night in a 5:45 battle for first place.