Fairfield National, Westport set to duke it out in U11 final
Published 3:32 pm, Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Westport U11 Little League baseball team is one win from its second straight District 2 championship.
But to achieve the mark another year, Westport will have to avenge its only loss this summer.
Westport will meet Fairfield National on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Unity Park in Trumbull, with a date in the Section 1 tournament on the line. This Westport team won the U10 district championship a year ago.
National enters Saturday's game undefeated, with a win over Westport already under its belt. National, behind Alexy Linsenmeyer's strong pitching, trumped Westport 5-2 on June 30.
More InformationFact box
"We're absolutely thrilled to be a part of this game," Fairfield National coach Lenny Klein said. "Getting to the championship game was our first goal and our second was to win it. We're excited to have a chance to accomplish this goal."
But that was Westport's lone loss this summer and looking back, Rogers believes it may have helped his team.
"Losing showed our kids that it is a different year and we won't be handed anything," Rogers said. "The intensity in practice picked up after that loss. I can say it now that we're in the finals, it might be a good thing that we lost."
Just two nights after its loss, Westport trailed Trumbull National 3-0 in the first inning. Westport rallied in the fifth inning, tying the game and winning in extra innings; one of its two come-from-behind victories thus far this summer.
"It was a tough road this year," Westport coach Tim Rogers said. "To be where we are now is quite an accomplishment."
Chad Knight, who took the loss in the team's lone loss to National, will start for Westport. Harry Azadian and Chris Drbal are both available if Westport needs them.
Although it is not seeking revenge per se, Rogers admitted his club is hungry to avenge its only loss.
"We have a lot of respect for the Fairfield teams," Rogers said. "The boys are competitive and I'm sure they want take care of any team that beat them."
Fairfield National has had its own share of redemption this summer. National's U10 team fell short of the district championship a year ago, falling to Fairfield American twice, including in the district semifinals.
But National beat its crosstown rival 5-2 in pool play, en route to its 5-0 round robin record. National's allowed just four runs thus far.
"Pitching and timely hitting has carried us this summer," Klein said.
Klein, a former Staples High School junior varsity baseball coach and current Staples math teacher, knows his club will be fine as long as it follows his mantra.
"When we step on the field we strive to learn and get better," Klein said. "That's the way I coached baseball in high school and that's the way I coach Little League. If we follow that, we'll win a lot of games."