SOUTHINGTON -- After 4 1/2 innings of his team's second Section 1 tournament game against Wilton, Fairfield American Little League coach Bill Meury thought his team's undefeated summer was about to end.
"We all thought we're probably going down," Meury said.
Yet, American's offense proved otherwise and staged a comeback for the ages.
After spotting Wilton a seven-run lead, Fairfield scored three runs in the fifth, four in the sixth and Michael Ghiorzi's game-winning homer in the seventh, lifting American to an improbable 8-7 win at Verderame Field.
"One hit leads to another hit and things start to happen," Meury said. "You don't get to pull those out very often."
Ghiorzi led off the bottom of the seventh, socking an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right, lifting American to 8-0 this summer.
"It feels pretty good," Ghiorzi said. "But it feels good to get the W."
Fairfield trailed 7-3 entering the sixth, but batted around, scoring four times and tying the game. Biagio Paoletta's three-run home run to centerfield -- on a full count with two outs -- capped Fairfield's comeback.
"We're a great team and we never gave up," Paoletta said. "I was nervous because I was down to two strikes with two outs, but he threw me a strike and I knew I had to hit it and I guess I hit it well."
Matt Kubel tossed two perfect innings of relief, earning the win as Fairfield American won its 12th straight sectional tournament game dating back to 2010. Kubel retired Wilton on just 16 pitches, making him available to start Saturday in Fairfield's game against Annex (1 p.m..
"We got lucky that he was able to be very, very efficient," Meury said. "We know that (Kubel) has faced these guys before and give them a tough time."
"We feel like we had our heart ripped out and stepped on," Wilton coach Kevin Black said. "A part of me has nothing but awe and respect for Fairfield American ... they're what we aspire to be."
Wilton pitcher Billy Black surrendered just five hits and three runs in five innings. Black did not allow a hit until the fifth inning.
"Billy Black threw a great game," Meury said. "We weren't having an off night, he was just pitching and beating us."
"Billy has the heart of a champion," Kevin Black said.
Four of Dooley's RBIs came on a fifth inning, two-out grand slam that capped a five-run fifth and seemingly broke the game open, boosting Wilton's advantage to 7-0.
"We played five really, really good innings tonight," Black said.
"I thought when they hit home runs it really helped out," Ghiorzi said. "We got some momentum going."
"We hit a bunch of balls hard," Meury said. "Wilton made some really nice plays."
Will Lucas followed with an RBI single, making it 7-3. Ghiorzi reached on an error to lead off the sixth-- one of Wilton's two late-inning defensive gaffes -- and scored on Kiernan's RBI fielder's choice. All of Fairfield's sixth-inning runs were unearned.
"Our defense let us down a little bit," Black said. "They put the bat on the ball and took advantage of our mistakes and that's what championship teams do."
WILTON 020 050 0 -- 7 6 2
FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 000 034 1 -- 8 8 1
Records: FA -- 2-0; W -- 0-2; Batteries: W -- Billy Black, Dillon Lifrieri (L) and Jack Stevenson; FA -- Will Lucas, Matt Kubel (W) and Biagio Paoletta; HRs: W -- Jack Dooley 2, Jack Gioffre; FA -- Paoletta, Patrick Steed, Dan Kiernan, Michael Ghiorzi.