Fairfield American moves on, Nationals close in Little League District play
Both Fairfield Little League all-star teams remain undefeated in District 2 pool play following wins against Trumbull's all-star teams Monday afternoon and evening. The Fairfield American stars (4-0) clinched a berth in the district's double-elimination tournament with a 9-1 victory over Trumbull National, while the Fairfield National team (3-0) moved one step closer to qualifying for the next stage with a 5-2 defeat of Trumbull American. Both games were at Trumbull's Unity Park.
With their win, the Americans earned the championship in the five-team Red Division, having defeated each of the other four teams. The Nationals are in real good shape to advance to the double-elimination phase, and can guarantee a berth with a win against fellow Blue Division team Bridgeport North End (0-2) on Thursday.
Two teams from each division, with the best records or those tied but advancing from advantages on tie-breakers, will qualify for the knockout round July 7-12 at Unity Park.
Fairfield American 9, Trumbull National 1
The Americans got off to a quick start for the second consecutive game, and never looked back. They blasted three home runs, and PJ Egan threw a complete game, striking out 10 while allowing just two hits and an unearned run.
The Americans were in control from the opening pitch. After Egan struck out the side in the top of the first inning, they scored six runs in the bottom of the frame against CJ Ridofi. Center fielder John Reynolds drew a leadoff walk, and right fielder Jamie Flink followed by drilling a home run over the center-field fence, giving Fairfield American a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, catcher Vince Camera drove in shortstop Brian Howell with a double, making the score 3-0. Camera came around on a single by first baseman Ian Bentley. Bentley and left fielder Connor O'Neil scored the inning's final two runs on an error and wild pitch.
The Americans forced Ridolfi out of the game in the second with a two-run homer by Camera. In the fourth, Camera belted his second round tripper, giving his team its final run. This was Camera's fourth RBI of the game and his third homer in two games.
Fairfield American has scored 47 runs in four games, which is almost 10.2 runs per game.
"We did a good job of putting the bat on the ball in the early innings and taking advantage of the opportunities we had," said American manager Michael Steed. "We tell the kids to put the ball in play and good things will happen, and they did that today."
Egan was excellent from start to finish. He located the ball well, and the Nationals hitters were unable to catch up to his fastball. When they did made contact, it was often weak. Trumbull scored its lone run in the sixth on a force out. Steed called Egan's performance "phenomenal."
"I'm proud of how all the boys played," Steed said. "It was a great team effort. From this point forward, the competition gets very tough. We're going to go back to practice and work hard."
Fairfield National 5, Trumbull American 2
The Nationals jumped out to an early lead in the second game and went on to win behind pitcher David Summers, who started on June 25 as well, and a solid defense.
The Nationals scored two runs in the top of the second inning. Owen Stanton and Matt Raab hit line-drive singles and Nick Parisi got on by an error, loading the bases with no outs. Jack Pierce and Ben Steele then drew walks to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Trumbull got out of it on a strikeout and double play.
The following inning, Summers increased the lead to 3-0 when he launched a homer to center field.
On the mound, Summers got out of a number of jams thanks to clutch pitches and slick fielding. In the second, Summers put runners on first and second base with two outs, but then blew a fastball past a Trumbull batter to strike out the side. The Americans then loaded the bases in the third inning with one out, but Summers escaped with only one run allowed by striking out two batters. With a runner on first and one out in the fourth, Raab snared a line drive at third before whipping the ball to Chris Saladin at first base to double off the runner.
The Nationals scored single runs in the fourth and sixth to increase their lead to 5-1. Saladin drove in Nicholas Giacomazza in the fourth with a ground ball single, and Jack Pierce scored the final run on a single by Summers.
Saladin relieved Summers with two outs in the fifth and pitched the remainder of the game. Summers finished with nine strikeouts. Saladin allowed a solo home run to Eric Harvey with two out in the sixth, before recording the game's final out on a grounder.
"I think we're starting to hit our stride," said Nationals manager Dr. Brad Weinstein. "We have a lot of work to do, but I'm proud of the way the boys are playing. Against North End, we need to continue to focus on winning each inning. Our mantra is one game at a time."
Danny Atkinson is a freelance reporter