The final stretch of the road to Williamsport begins tonight

Fairfield American Little League-- fresh off its second consecutive state championship-- has earned a chance to make it back-to-back New England Regional titles as well.

"Most people, regardless of age, never get a shot at a state title," Fairfield coach Kevin Flynn said. "Let alone two in back-to-back years...it's fantastic."

Fairfield will start round robin play against Barre (Vt.) Community Little League at the Giamatti Little League Center in Bristol tonight at 8:15 p.m.

American is guaranteed four games in Bristol, tonight, Saturday night against Yarmouth, Maine at 8 p.m.; Sunday evening against Goffstown, N.H.; and Tuesday at 1 p.m. against Cumberland (R.I.) National.

Tuesday's contest with Cumberland will be a rematch of the 2010 New England Regional Final, a game in which Fairfield beat the Rhode Island state champions 1-0 to clinch its trip to the World Series in Willimsport, Pa. That game will also be televised on NESN, the New England Sports Network.

Should Fairfield finish in the top-four after its four round robin games, it'll play a regional semi-final game on Thursday, which also will be broadcasted on NESN. The New England Regional Final will be Saturday, Aug. 13 at 1 p.m., and televised on ESPN2.

If Fairfield continues to hit the way it is capable, it'll be a hard team to knock out. American's proven to be a difficult team to defeat anyway, as it is 4-0 in elimination games, outscoring its opponents 56-19 in those do-or-die contests.

"We're very deep," Flynn said of his team's offense.

Fairfield's pitching is set-up so every hurler-- save state championship clincher Jack Oricoli-- can pitch on Friday. Because of pitch-count rules, Oricoli can not pitch again until Sunday. American has Eddie Schwartz, who has won his last three starts dating back to the District 2 tournament, available to start.

State Game 1 starter Brendan Flynn, as well as Reed Szemplinski and Brendan Layne are also available if Kevin Flynn chooses to go with a starter other than Schwartz.

Given Fairfield's rigorous schedule, Flynn is keenly aware of how important his team's pitching depth is.

"You can't rely on one pitcher," he said. "You have to be creative with the pitching and rotating kids through."

The team left for Bristol Thursday morning and will spend up to nine days in dorms at the tournament complex. One thing Flynn is sure of is that his team will be able to enjoy itself during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"That's the cool part," Flynn said. "We'll have a good time."

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