Fairfield American rolls to spot in New England LL semis, 15-2
BRISTOL -- After spending their day at ESPN, Fairfield American Little Leaguers spent spent Monday night rolling to the New England regional semifinals.
Biagio Paoletta was 2-for-4 with five RBIs and a grand slam as Fairfield routed Scarborough, Maine, 15-2, in a mercy-rule shortened, four-inning game at Breen Field.
Michael Ghiorzi was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and Ryan Meury was 2-for-2 with three runs scored as American improved to 3-0 and officially qualified for Thursday's New England regional.
"I felt good at the plate today," Ghiorzi said. "I saw the pitches well."
Fairfield can likely clinch the No. 1 seed with a win over Wellesley, Mass., on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
"We can manage our pitching a little bit better," Fairfield American manager Bill Meury said. "We're going to go play Wednesday's game to win it, but we're able to do some things with the pitching staff that we wouldn't have been able to do if we lost."
Maine committed five errors that allowed Fairfield to score 12 unearned runs. Fairfield also banged out 12 hits, has scored 32 runs in its last two games and 29 in its last five innings at bat.
"Right now I think they're pretty hot," Meury said of his team's offense. "They're swinging the bats well and look good there."
Scarborough pitcher Morgan Pratt allowed 12 runs in 1 2/3 innings. Maine (0-3) must win its final round-robin game against Bedford, N.H., on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and get help in order to advance to the semifinals.
Fairfield toured the ESPN studios in Bristol on Monday morning. The team got a close-up view of the "Baseball Tonight" and "SportsCenter" sets while five other games were completed at Breen Field.
"It was a lot of fun," Paoletta said. "We saw a lot of things we don't normally see."
Then, after its game's start time was delayed almost 1 hour, 45 minutes while those prior games finished, Fairfield took little time getting comfortable offensively. Fairfield sent 11 to the plate in the top of the first, scoring six times, keyed by Matt Kubel's RBI single that scored Paoletta and put Fairfield up 2-0.
"(Pratt) had a good curveball, but we sat back on it," Paoletta said.
But Kubel, pitching for the second time in three nights, struggled in the bottom of the inning. He walked leadoff hitter Pratt after getting ahead 0-2, earning him a mound visit from Meury.
"He didn't want to throw his curveball like he can throw his curveball," Meury said. "And I said ,`if we're going to call it, you've got to throw it.' And after that he started to throw it."
Kubel settled down from there, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced, throwing just 30 pitches after the first inning.
"He went out in the second inning, which was a big inning, and regrouped," Meury said. "His curveball looked good and he was throwing his fastball to locations."
American broke the game open in the second, sending 11 more to the plate. Oricoli's RBI single scored Lucas, then Ghiorzi's double scored Oricoli, making it 8-2.
"I got some pitches up," Ghiorzi said. "And I drove them." After American loaded the bases, Meury was hit by a pitch, scoring Ghiorzi. Pratt was pulled for Ogden Tipson, and Paoletta deposited his first pitch deep over the wall in centerfield for a grand slam, making it 13-2.
"When I saw it go over the fence I was relieved," Paoletta said. "It was a curveball, and I'm not supposed to swing at first-pitch curveballs."
FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 670 2 -- 15 12 0
SCARBOROUGH, MAINE 200 0 -- 2 4 5
Records: FA: 3-0; Maine: 0-3; Batteries: FA--- Matt Kubel (W, 2-0), Will Lucas (4) and Biagio Paoletta; Maine -- Morgan Pratt (L, 0-1), Ogden Timpson (2) and Owen Garrard, Jared Brooks; Home runs: FA -- Paoletta.