Indians beat East Catholic with run in seventh
Montville - Phil Orbe was just looking to make something happen.
And what happened is what usually happens with Orbe's Montville High School baseball team when the calendar turns to June - the Indians found a way to win and advance in the CIAC Class M state tournament.
Saturday's result was a 5-4 victory over No. 18 East Catholic of Manchester in the quarterfinals, coming when Orbe put the runners in motion in the bottom of the seventh and Jordan Volpe singled home Brandon Haas with the game winner.
"I saw (Orbe) tell Haas to steal third,'' said Volpe, who hit a 1-1 fastball from Andrew Stutts into the vacated spot the shortstop left as Buddy Dewaine was headed for second.
No. 10 Montville (18-6) plays No. 11 St. Joseph of Trumbull, a 4-3 winner over North Branford, in Tuesday's semifinals at 3:30 p.m. at Beehive Field in New Britain. The Indians played in their 11th straight quarterfinal and advance to the semis for the sixth time in that span, including titles in 2006, 2010 and 2011.
"I think we've been playing real well,'' said Volpe, a senior. "You have to credit some of the guys before us that taught us how to win close games.''
Montville had a 4-0 lead. Lucas Van Hausen scored on an error in the first and laced a three-run double in the second. And starting pitcher Chad Mooney did his best to keep the lead.
In the top of the third East Catholic (14-9) loaded the bases with no outs. A run scored when Clay Felice was hit by a pitch, but Mooney struck out the next two batters and got Josh Zbierski to fly out to right to end the threat.
"They put the ball in play when they had the bases loaded and we didn't,'' said East Catholic coach Martin Fiori.
Mooney, who Orbe said was making his fourth or fifth start of the season, moved to his usual spot in centerfield after allowing a leadoff single in the fifth. He struck out six with no walks, allowing no earned runs.
"He gave us everything he had today,'' said Orbe. "It's just him being a bulldog. I was very impressed with him.''
Joseph Brachas came on in relief and surrendered a two-out, two-run triple to Tyler Aprea, who was 4-for-4, that got over the head of Mooney. But Mooney got another chance right away, and made a diving catch of a drive by Felice that ended the threat and kept Montville ahead 4-3.
"It was a beautiful catch,'' said Fiori. "It just shows you can't give up on anything.''
Said Mooney: "At first I thought it was over my head, then it started to tail off. I got a better read on that one.''
Zbierski doubled home Logan Greene with one out in the top of the seventh inning to bring East Catholic even at 4-4, but Brachas (7-1) got the final two outs.
Haas led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and immediately stole second. One out later, Dewaine was intentionally walked. Orbe then put the runners in motion - Fiori said East Catholic would have let Haas take third and try to throw out Dewaine for the second out - but Volpe came through to set off the celebration.
Nick Clemons and Van Hausen had two hits each and Haas scored twice for Montville, which finished third in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division but is the last team standing.
"We play in a very good league and we're challenged every game,'' said Orbe.
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