While most teams in Zone II already had three games under their belts, the Orange Post 127 baseball team was eager to get on the field to play for real.
Despite coming into Thursday evening’s game against West Haven Post 71 with three wins, all came by forfeit against a New Haven team which has folded because it was not able to field enough players.
With an extra four days to prepare, Orange did not squander its opportunity. Behind the pitching of Jake Skolnick, and an opportunistic offense, Post 127 topped West Haven 3-1 in the first game of a doubleheader at Brinley Field in Orange.
“I think we were just eager to get on the field,” Orange coach Joe Pisano said. “We had some extra days and we were able to get some scrimmages in since the end of the Amity season.”
Skolnick was in command from the start, allowing just one run on a balk, and scattering four hits. The Orange pitcher struck out eight and walked two in a performance which never saw him get in any real trouble.
“It is all part of my pregame preparations,” Skolnick said about being ready to play after extra time off. “That’s what is important for me. I just went out there and attacked them. I was able to pound the strike zone and keep the ball in the zone.”
West Haven (0-5) scored its only run of the game in the second inning when Austin Ormrod singled to left just under the glove of Orange third baseman Jon McNelis, moved to second on a balk by Skolnick, third on a single by Steven Byrd, and scored on another Skolnick balk.
That was all the difficulty Skolnick saw the rest of the way as he allowed a one-out single to Ormrod in the fourth and a two-out double to Nick Flammia in the sixth, but Flammia was left stranded as Skolnick got Ormrod to ground out for the final out of the inning.
“His slider was outstanding tonight,” Pisano said of Skolnick. “He struggled early, but he settled down to pitch a good game.”
Orange, which also won the nightcap 6-1 to improve to 5-0, scored once in each of the first three innings for all the offense it would need in the contest. Post 127 managed only three hits in the game, but made the most of its opportunities.
Marc Chodos walked to open the bottom of the first, moved to second on Jared Smith’s grounder to first, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on a wild pitch by West Haven pitcher Justin Uribe.
With the game even at one in the second, Chris Parkin led off with a double, stole third, and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Logan Corris.
“We will manufacture runs this year,” Pisano said. “I think that is going to be the formula for us with pitching and defense. We may have to score runs different ways this year.”
Orange again used a walk to score in the third inning as Chodos was issued a free pass by Uribe, went to second on a passed ball, third on Smith’s fly ball to right, and scored when Pete Minore reached on an error.
“I thought he pitched okay,” West Haven coach Gary Donovan said of Uribe. “I thought he settled in and did a nice job. We were not sure he could go the whole game, but he settled in nicely. He only gave up a few hits.”
Uribe retired seven in a row until Smith led off the sixth with a single, but he used a double play and a fly out to keep the Westies within striking distance.
“We are improving every game,” Donovan said. “We are getting more hits. We will keep plugging along. We can’t get down on ourselves.”
Ormrod led West Haven with two hits, while Uribe tossed six innings of three-hit ball, walking three and striking out two.