Despite loss in regional semis, Orchard Mesa happy with season

Orchard Mesa Little League advanced farther than any other Major boys baseball team from Grand Junction at the Southwestern Regional.

A powerhouse from Texas, though, put an abrupt stop Tuesday to Orchard Mesa’s run to the Little League World Series in the regional semifinals in Waco, Texas.

Texas East representative Pearland White Little League defeated Orchard Mesa 10-0 in four innings in the semifinal game, which was broadcast live on ESPN2.

“The teams down here are high quality teams,” Orchard Mesa manager Pete Steves said. “But we are going to still celebrate tonight. We are happy to have made it this far.”

Pearland advances to Thursday’s final against the Texas West representative from Eagle Pass American Little League, which rallied to beat Arkadelphia, Ark., 5-4.

The regional champion advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., later this month.

Orchard Mesa knew it was going against a high-powered offense. The Houston-area team breezed past its previous three opponents, scoring a total of 32 runs. Pearland didn’t slow down against Orchard Mesa, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, with its first three hitters reaching base.

Pearland had opportunities to add more runs, but a strikeout by Orchard Mesa pitcher Trey Garcia and a heads-up play by catcher Andrew Martinez allowed Orchard Mesa to get out of the inning down only 1-0.

Orchard Mesa gave up three more runs in the second inning, then allowed three more in the third, capped by Beau Orlando’s two-run ground-rule double, for a 7-0 lead.

“After we only gave up one in the first, I thought that was a good sign,” Steves said. “But (Texas) was a tough bunch of kids, and they starting scoring three an inning instead of one.”

In the fourth inning, Pearland put the game away with home runs by Jake Orlando and Hunter Smith.

Orchard Mesa couldn’t keep pace with Pearland because of Beau Orlando’s pitching.

Martinez reached first base in the first inning on an error, but after that, Orchard Mesa was unable to generate any offense.

Orchard Mesa went hitless in the second and third innings.

“We were hitting the ball, but it was right at someone,” Steves said. “We only ended up having four guys that batted more than once.”

In the fourth, Martinez got Orchard Mesa’s only hit of the game, but was thrown out at second.

Despite the loss, Steves said it was a memorable trip for his team.

“We did a lot of things for the first time for Grand Junction, and we were proud to throw up a couple of wins,” Steves said. “Overall we are really happy.”


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