Palisade advances to state after winning Major boys title
After giving up a two-run home run in the first inning of Saturday’s Major boys District 1 Little League championship game, Palisade pitcher Matt Seriani refused to let the hit get him down.
“It was tough, but I knew our bats have been on fire all tournament, so I knew we could come back,” Seriani said.
Seriani’s faith in his teammates paid off. In the fifth and sixth innings, Palisade scored seven runs to beat Orchard Mesa 7-3 to earn Palisade’s first state berth in the Major division.
“When we fall behind they get a little nervous, but they don’t let it get to them,” Palisade coach Mike Seriani said.
“I say they’re like dogs — they don’t recognize the size of the challenge they’re against. They perform well and they work hard.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Palisade fell behind when Orchard Mesa catcher Tristan Brown hit a home run to center field that also scored leadoff hitter Gage Fransen.
Palisade struggled against Orchard Mesa starting pitcher Jaden Miller, who kept hitters off balance with a good curveball. In 41⁄3 innings, Miller allowed two hits and struck out eight.
He left the game in the fifth inning after reaching his pitch count.
“He actually landed more strikes with (the curveball) than we thought, so we just told them whenever he (threw a fastball) in there, we had to drive it. We were glad to get him out of his pitch count, get him out of the game,” Mike Seriani said.
Two batters after Miller left, Palisade took a 3-2 lead when Max Noland hit a three-run home run well beyond the center-field fence. The home run scored Ferris Billy, who walked, and Dan McLean, who had doubled.
Orchard Mesa tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the inning on Miller’s RBI double that scored Fransen.
In the sixth inning, Matt Seriani walked on four pitches, which prompted Orchard Mesa to replace pitcher Kale Litzelman with Fransen.
Palisade catcher Russ Bleyle took Frensen’s first two pitches, but the third was right down the middle, which Bleyle hit over the left-center field fence.
“The third pitch, I felt it was good, so I just swung,” Bleyle said.
Billy walked and scored on a triple by Isaiah Pena. Pena scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 7-3.
Matt Seriani retired the first two batters in the sixth before he reached his pitch count. Max Noland got a groundout to end the game.
Seriani finished with eight strikeouts.
Mike Seriani said although his team is aware of its path could continue to the Little League World Series, the players are focused on winning at the state level in Aurora.
“We just want to make an impact at state right now,” he said. “I think if these boys keep working at it, they’ll have a chance over there. They’re hard to beat. We don’t have any super athletes on our team, but we have a team full of good kids.”
Bleyle said the team is hoping to represent the town well.
“We’re the first Palisade team ever to get there and we hope to do good, show our city proud,” he said.