Host Halifax took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and made it stand up in a 4-2 Conference 16 Tournament title win over the visiting Hornets.
Despite the loss, the Orange boys (17-4) will host a first-round Region 5A North game at Porterfield Park Tuesday.
The top-seeded Comets opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the first inning, following a hit batter and a triple. Another hit batter and a single made it 2-0 with Orange coming to bat.
With two outs, Justin Beaty singled to center field and stole second. Allen Sealy singled to drive in Beaty and cut the lead to 2-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, a lead-off double, a sacrifice bunt and a single plated the Comets’ next run to make it 3-1.
Orange again cut the lead to a single score in the top of the fifth.
Seeley singled and took second on a Halifax error before coming around to score on Trevon Smith’s single.
After a lead-off single in the top of the sixth, the Hornets were set down in order to preserve the Halifax advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Comets extended their lead with back-to-back doubles, making it 4-2.
Halifax pitcher C. Redd set Orange down in order in the top of the seventh to earn the save.
Seeley had two hits, a run batted in and a run scored for Orange.
Senior Bradley Hanner, Orange County High School’s ace on the mound, threw five innings, giving up one unearned run and three scattered hits to move the varsity Hornets Atlee 8-1 in the Conference 16 semifinals last Wednesday.
The Raiders (13-7), playing out of the 3A Capital District, struck first with a run in the second inning as Cameron Harris came home on a passed ball. Following his single to left field, Harris moved to second on a fielder’s choice, promptly stealing third base soon after.
“Atlee was very energetic in the dugout, especially after scoring the opening run, but in the second inning when our bats came alive and we put five runs up and with our number one pitcher out there, we kind of took the momentum from them (Atlee). I thought that was a big turning point in the game,” said Orange County Head Coach Dave Rabe.
Consecutive infield singles from Will Dawson and Christian Amos, with Dawson advancing to third base, resulted in the Hornets knotting the game on Justin Beaty’s sacrifice fly to right field in the home half of the second inning. Continuing the hit parade, Allen Seeley placed a rifle shot past a diving Atlee third-sacker and subsequently moved along the base paths as a result of Canon Davies’ infield sacrifice. An intentional walk issued to Trevon Smith loaded the bases and an additional base-on-balls to Joel Wright allowed Amos to come home with the lead run. Helping his own cause, Hanner crushed a double to left-center, clearing the bases as Seeley, Smith and Wright all arrived across home plate safely to break the contest open, 5-1.
Defensively, Orange rose to the challenge also when, with a runner on first base and one out in the top-half of the third inning, a perfectly executed double-play from Wright to Davies to Amos decisively ended any threat or energy the Raiders may have been attempting to ignite.
Holding a six-run lead and with his ace near 100 pitches, Rabe pulled Hanner and turned the game over to his capable relief staff. Caleb Ferraro and Jacob Barragan shut down the Raiders preserving the victory.
Beginning the third inning with a sharp single past Atlee’s second-baseman, Keenan Williams became a one-man distraction to the Raiders as he stole second base then moved to third on a passed ball. Beaty’s second sacrifice fly and second RBI of the game, brought Williams home for five-run Hornet advantage at 6-1.
Orange (17-3) tacked on another run in the fourth as Davies led off with a double over the left-fielder’s head, later scoring on an Atlee infield error. Securing the final run of the night, Orange’s Wright came home with his team’s eighth run on another infield error after being walked (his second of the game).
“This means a lot to our program as every year we’ve gotten a little bit better. We had 10 wins last year, right now we have 17 and we’re getting ready to play for the conference championship so this was a big, big win for us tonight and especially in front of such a big crowd,” Rabe said. “These fans have been here every home game and it builds with every win. It’s been a good night and we’re going to enjoy this tonight and get back to work tomorrow but, right now, I can’t stop smiling.”