Shelton Post 16 Senior American Legion coach Steve Boles fully understands the razor-thin line between victory and defeat.
He also knows that allowing 10 walks in one game to any team can create a disastrous result.
Shelton threw four pitchers against Orange Post 127 at Shelton High School when the locals lost a 14-2 decision to one of the premier teams in Zone II on Friday night.
Boles does see an upside to his initial year as a Legion coach:
“We’re a very resilient team. Tonight wasn’t really a very good example of how well we can play. We won our last two games (against Hamden) and did it by scoring the winning runs in our last at-bat. And, as far as the standings go, we’re still very much in the thick of things.”
The loss dropped Shelton under the .500 mark at 7-8, but the team strung together three other wins over the weekend and entered play on Monday night, also against Orange, with a 10-8 mark.
Branford leads the Zone with a 20-1 record, while Orange is next at 16-2. Shelton is now fourth and trails East Haven (13-8) through the weekend games.
C.J. Rizzo collected two hits against Orange, while Marcello Ursini added two and Pat Murphy had the last of Shelton’s six safeties.
Shelton got both of its runs in the sixth inning off of Orange pitcher Sam Nepiarsky, the second of two pitchers used by coach Bob Mirto. Mike Concato started the game and worked just two innings.
Shelton’s Mike Ficano earned a walk, and after Tyler Tice flied out to Orange center fielder Sean Beaulieu, Murphy singled to left. Ursini followed with a single that scored Ficano. Murphy eventually scored on an Orange error.
Shelton put two more runners on in the seventh after Rizzo singled and Tice reached on an error, but was unable to score another run.
“We ran into a very good Orange team so I must tip my hat to them tonight,” said Boles, who previously coached in the Shelton Babe Ruth League system. “They have outstanding pitching and great hitting. They seem to have it every year.
“We need to put this program on an upswing and, so far, I think we’re beginning to do exactly that.”
Boles used Jeremy Soderholm, a former Shelton High pitcher who’s now going to Bryant University, along with Drew Kozak, Justin Hill and Ursini.
“I wanted to go with Jeremy for as long as I could (he came out in the third inning) because he’s such a determined kid,” Boles said.
Jake Russo had three hits and four RBIs for Orange. Matt Ronai and Justin Ashworth added a pair each. In all, Orange had 10 safeties.
Post 127 scored five runs in the second inning and three in the sixth, while adding two more in the third and three more in the fifth of the six-inning game.
“We hit the ball well tonight and certainly took advantage of the walks,” Mirto said. “This group of players has a passion for the game. Many of them were on the state championship (Class LL) Amity High team.
“We’re a little less intense because it’s summer ball, but I’ve noticed our guys are getting to the ballpark earlier as we near the finish line.”
Orange opened a three-game, three-night series with Branford on July 9 at Orange’s Brinley Sports Complex.