The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
This hasn’t been the season Diego Orozco wanted, but on Wednesday he delivered what his team needed.
Orozco, who has been hampered by injury and placed in the designated hitter spot, came up with the RBI walk-off single that Wilson used to beat Long Beach Poly 2-1 in an exciting Moore League clash.
“When I was in the on-deck circle I wanted it and I was telling everybody I wanted it,” Orozco said of the big moment in the 7th inning. “I went up there and provided it.”
Before the dramatic final innings, this game was a pitcher’s duel between old friends Charlie Royle and Ryan Skjonsby. Wilson’s Royle struck out 12 batters while scattering three hits and a walk in a complete-game performance. Poly’s Skjonsby allowed four hits and struck out four before the Bruins broke through in the sixth and seventh innings.
Poly took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Skjonsby launched a home run over the big fence in right at Skip Rowland Field.
“He lives about three houses down from me and we’ve grown up together,” Royle said of Skjonsby. “It’s funny and nerve-wracking (to face each other) because I’ll never hear the end of what happened today. And he probably won’t either.”
Wilson tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to consecutive two-out doubles from Aaron Mingo and Ryan Burack.
After Royle struck out the side in the top of the seventh, a leadoff walk drawn by Nathan Gomez-Gardenswartz and a throwing error brought in Lucas Scott to replace Skjonsby. Zach Wakefield also drew a walk and took second before Orozco came up with two RISP and no outs.
“You have to live in the moment,” Orozco said. “I took deep breaths to calm the mind. I went up there feeling really good… It’s amazing with the adrenaline rushing. It feels great.”
With the Poly infield pulled in, Orozco bounced his game-winning single through the left side to set off the Bruins celebration.
“I’m happy for our guys because we needed that like nobody’s business,” Wilson coach Andy Hall said. “Especially after the last time we played them here last year. It was the exact opposite.”
Poly clinched the league title at Wilson last year by scoring in their last at-bats.
“(These league games) are always fun because all across the Moore League it’s kids I’ve grown up with,” Royle said.
Royle and Skjonsby both allowed runners to reach base in each of the first two innings, and then settled down to control the quick game that only lasted about an hour and a half.
After striking out the side in the fifth inning, Royle tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Skjonsby in the sixth but he blasted it over the fence.
“That home run kind of pissed me off, so I just came out and shut it down,” Royle said. “Endurance is something I’ve been working on for awhile so I can go further in these games.”
Royle struck out the next five batters he faced.
“Charlie was absolutely lights out,” Hall said. “It’s just his desire to win. He’s our backbone and fortunately he had his best today.”
Poly’s Andrew Clavel and Mingo were the only players with multiple hits.
Wilson will travel to Cabrillo on Friday in its next league action, and Poly is scheduled to take on Lakewood on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field next Wednesday when Wilson will also play Millikan.