BRISTOL — Matt Vivona provided the power, Ethan Righter supplied the pitching and the poise of the entire Fairfield American Little League team drove it to a dominating 8-0 victory over South Portland, Maine, in the opening round of the New England Regional tournament on Monday at Breen Field at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center.

Vivona hit a two-run homer in the first and added a solo shot in the fifth — he also hit a triple — in scoring three runs and driving in three. Righter was overpowering on the mound, allowing just two hits (only one Maine baserunner got as far as second) while striking out nine and walking one.

“I was just looking to throw strikes and have them (Maine) put the ball in play because I knew my fielders were behind me,” said Righter, who improved to 7-0 this summer. “It helped me that we got a lot of timely hits.”

One of the biggest was Vivona’s two-run shot in the first that put Fairfield American in front. Michael Iannazzo doubled down the left-field line and Vivona then powered his shot over the fence in left center.

“I was just looking for good pitches and trying to swing at anything out of the zone. I wanted to get ahead in the count and make the pitcher throw strikes and get something to drive.”

Fairfield, now 16-0 in postseason play, will play New Hampshire — an 8-2 winner over Massachusetts in Monday’s second game — on Wednesday (ESPN3) at 4 p.m. Maine had initially advanced with a 9-7 win over Vermont on Sunday and now drops into the loser’s bracket to play Rhode Island Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Armed with that early lead, Righter was determined not to let it go. The ace of the Fairfield American staff — he didn’t allow a run in four innings against North Branford the Section 1 championship with 11 strikeouts and shut down Wallingford in the state tournament — struck out two in each of the first four innings and only surrendered two singles.

“He threw strike one a number of times and that was huge, getting ahead in the count,” Fairfield American manager Mike Randazzo said. “That’s the most important pitch for a pitcher. We knew they were a good team and we didn’t want to make mistakes and the boys came to play and with V getting that home run in the first that allows Ethan to step back and pitch a little bit of a different game.”

Vivona led off the third with a triple to right center and came home to score on pinch-hitter Christian Smith’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 Fairfield. Vivona went 3-for- 4 on the day and is batting .472 this summer.

Fairfield broke the game open in the fifth with five runs. Vivona led off with his second home run (his 10th of the summer) before Tyler Bauer walked and Troy Ashkinos singled to put runner at first and second. Aidan Rivera doubled home Bauer to make it 5-0 and then Owen Kalagher’s two-run single plated both Ashkinos and Rivera for a 7-0 lead. Leo Randazzo’s double scored Kalagher for the final Fairfield American run.

Meanwhile, Righter was cruising on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out six batters over the opening three innings, including four in a row.

“Tremendous job. He threw just 65 pitches through five innings,” Randazzo said. “He was dominant.”

Fairfield finished with 12 hits with seven different players in the lineup reaching via a hit.

“Everyone hitting the ball well,” Righter said. “Everyone was just building off each other. That helped us a lot.”

“I couldn’t be happier,” Randazzo said. “We’re excited to be here and we want to win but if you can see these boys in the dorms, they’re as loose as can be. We’ve been having a lot of fun.”


Tough choice but let’s go with Matt Vivona. He hit two home runs, scored three times and drove in three runs. His two-run blast in the first gave Fairfield the lead and the bomb in the fifth nearly hit the ESPN banner on the outfield camera platform in center field.


Ethan Righter. Five innings, just 65 pitches and only two hits allowed. He walked just one, struck out nine and just one Maine batter reached second. He is now 7-0 for the summer with a 2.18 ERA.


“We lost in the (New England Regional) championship last year and we’re looking to take that next step and go to Williamsport this year.” — Matt Vivona, who also played on last season’s Fairfield American squad


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Batteries: M—Andrew Heffernan (L), Johnny Poole (1), Aiden Lee (4), Richie Gilboy (5), Matthew Fogg (5), Ben Stanley (5) and Richie Gilboy, Nolan Hobbs (4); FA— Ethan Righter (W), Matt Vivona (6) and Aidan Rivera. HR—Matt Vivona (2)