Orange bounces back in Western Regional
SAN BERNARDINO – After dropping its Western Regional opener on Saturday night, Orange Little League's route to the Little League World Series essentially turned into a series of single-elimination baseball games.
The first of those games, a 7-1 victory over Cedar National Little League of Utah on Sunday morning at Al Houghton Stadium, put Orange right back on the championship trail.
"Last night we focused on the fact that this tournament isn't a sprint, it's a marathon," Orange head coach Chris Esperanza said. "We have to win games, yes, but we also have to save our pitchers and have pitching for the right games the rest of the way."
Orange leadoff hitter Ryan Islas went 4 for 4 with a pair of singles, a double and a home run as the hosts struck for six runs on four hits and four walks in the decisive third inning.
"I was thinking that I needed to get on to get the rally started," Islas said of his third-inning home run. "I was just trying to get on base."
On the mound, starting pitcher Riley Fink allowed one run in two-plus innings of work and struck seven.
"I love this spot; it's a great opportunity," Fink said, "I had fun pitching out there ... I have the same approach every time I pitch, just throw strikes."
With the score knotted at one, Islas led off the third inning with a solo home run to center field.
A subsequent walk, wild pitch and single allowed Fink --- Orange's clean-up hitter --- to double the lead with a sacrifice fly.
Following a groundout and a walk, consecutive singles by Jordan Schmidt and Luke Herrera gave Orange a 5-1 advantage.
"Last night's loss was a tough one," Esperanza said, "but if there's one word to describe this group it's resilient. We've had our backs against the wall before and have come back fighting each time."
Orange Little League continues pool play tonight at 8 against Northern California.