BRISTOL -- Fairfield American Little League's Ryan Meury struck out 13 and scored the game's only run in the fifth inning to win a pitcher's duel in a 1-0 win over Coventry, R.I., in its opening round-robin game in the New England Regionals at Breen Field Friday night.
Fairfield American plays again tonight at 8 against Vermont. Matt Kubel will be the starter, according to American coach Bill Meury.
"The difference between a win and a loss is razor thin," Billy Meury said. "If the game goes one more inning Rhode Island could win and Connecticut could lose. So we expected this type of game."
This was a change of pace for a Fairfield American team that had averaged just over nine runs in its previous 14 tournament games.
"We've never been in a game like that," catcher Biagio Paoletta said.
Hits were tough to come by against hard-throwing Rhode Island righthander Manny Bjorklund, who surrendered just one hit in 4 1/3 innings of work.
"He's got as good a fastball as any pitcher in this tournament is going to have," Meury said. "I'll tell you, our guys weren't sad to see that guy get out."
Unlike Ryan Meury, who kept his pitch count down and was able to go the distance, Bjorklund hit the 85-pitch limit in the fifth inning and had to be pulled.
Jarrad Grossguth came in and gave up consecutive hits to Ryan Meury and Paoletta, who doubled. Meury scored from third base on a passed ball one batter later, crossing home plate on a bang-bang play.
"My dad told me to get a good jump off of third base," Ryan Meury said. "I just had to be ready."
In the top of the sixth, Meury gave up a double to Grossguth. Second baseman Kyle Brown followed with a fly ball to left field, but American's Patrick Steed made what was likely a run-saving catch. One strikeout later, and the victory was sealed.
"He's got a very good curveball and he can throw either (that or his fastball) for a strike in any type of count," coach Meury said of his son. "And he keeps his pitch count down and that's why he's able to win games."
RHODE ISLAND 000 000--0 2 0
FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 000 01x--1 3 1
Batteries: RI--Manny Bjorklund, Jarrad Grossguth (5, L) and Nick D'Ambra. FA--Ryan Meury (W) and Biagio Paoletta.