Oh brother! Sibling helped Oricoli make Series team
Updated 6:34 pm, Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Jack Oricoli makes no bones about it.
The standout pitcher and outfielder from Fairfield American's 2011 state championship team is jealous that his younger brother Kevin is a Little League World Series participant.
Kevin, who is in only his third year of competitive baseball, has been Fairfield's starting third baseman all summer.
Kevin's two-RBI single on Saturday helped lift Fairfield to a 12-0 win over Kearney, Neb., at Lamade Stadium.
"It was tough ... because this is where I wanted to go," Jack, now 14, said. "But I've settled down ... Watching him is almost better than playing."
Jack also is accountable for Kevin's budding baseball prowess. Kevin did not play on American's district all-star team a year ago, instead qualifying for the tier 2 all-star "tournament team." Jack, who played for the tournament team as a 10- and 11-year-old, before finally breaking through for American's district team last year, offered to help Kevin get better.
"I worked my way up through the tournament team," Jack said. "I started helping him out. Anyone would've done the same for his brother."
Jack and Kevin would walk to Mill Hill School's field every day with a bucket of baseballs and Jack would hit ground balls to his brother.
"We used to have catches and throw the ball around," Jack said. "We'd just have fun."
Kevin was happy to participate.
The accomplished hockey player, who plays for the elite Wonderland Wizards team, started playing baseball at age 11 because of Jack.
"I wanted to be like (Jack)," Kevin said.
After a year of playing and training with Jack, American manager Bill Meury picked Kevin for this year's district team.
"We wanted him to get more experience at age 11," Meury said. "He's a fundamentally sound player."
Kevin has had a knack for clutch power, too. The 5-foot, 97-pound No. 5 hitter has struck three homers this summer, including two that clinched mercy-rule wins.
"He plays well under pressure," Meury said. "He's a cool cat when the game's on the line."
When Kevin stepped into the batters box for his first World Series plate appearance -- Thursday against Petaluma, Calif. -- Jack sat in the family section carefully analyzing his brother's at-bat.
"I was thinking about what I would do if I were in that situation," Jack said. "He struck out, but at least he struck out swinging." Kevin got a hit in his second at-bat, then his two-RBI single Saturday allowed him to playfully gloat in the post-game press conference.
"I made it farther than him," Kevin said Saturday. "It's kind of awkward around him because he's so jealous."
But Kevin is also known for scoring goals as the Wizards' right wing and has traveled for hockey as far away as Ottawa, Canada. He may have to choose between hockey and baseball eventually. But he'll make that choice when it is time.
"I can't decide right now," he said. "I love both sports."
His mother, Michele, realizes how fortunate Kevin is, but also how hard he's worked.
"He has a commitment to both sports," Michele said. "He's lucked out. He's been on good teams and has enjoyed it."