By Pat Pickens

NEW HAVEN — The Fairfield American Little League team wasted no time taking control of the best-of-three, state championship series.

American scored eight runs in the top of the first inning and rolled 9-0 over Avon in a rain-shortened Game 1 at Annex Little League.

“We put the ball in play and hit a couple of balls really, really hard,” Fairfield American coach Bill Meury said. “It’s a good way to start a game.”

Fairfield American can claim its third straight state championship Sunday if it can beat Avon at 7 p.m. at Annex.

“We’re not going to look past (Game 2),” Meury said. “But it would be nice to put a good game together and finish it.”

American’s Matty Clarkin was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, Dan Kiernan homered and Ryan Meury allowed just one hit in four innings to stay unbeaten this summer.

“He throws strikes and attacks the zone,” Clarkin said of Meury. “You know he’s going to do well.”

“We like our chances when he’s on the mound,” Bill Meury said of his son.

After Kiernan’s home run, the skies opened up, drenching the field and leaving it unplayable. After a 15-minute delay, the umpires called the game.

“Fortunately we were able to get four innings in,” Bill Meury said. “It’s unfortunate they had to shorten the game.”

Avon starter Connor Harris allowed eight runs — three of which were earned — in a third of an inning. The Section 2 champs fell for the first time this summer.

“I think some of our kids were tight,” Avon coach Steve Harris said. “I think the kids had a tough time responding being down 8-0. We’ve been so dominant throughout the tournament, we’ve never been down that much.”

“He might’ve had a bit of an off day,” Meury said of Connor Harris.

Nine of Fairfield’s first 10 hitters reached safely, aided by three Avon errors. After Meury walked and Biagio Paoletta singled, Will Lucas’ two-run single put Fairfield ahead 2-0.

After Matt Kubel reached on an error, Kevin Oricoli drove in Lucas with a fielder’s choice. Michael Ghiorzi followed with a single and Patrick Steed drove home Oricoli with a double, making it 4-0.

Henry Prestegard struck out, but reached when Avon’s catcher failed to make a throw, loading the bases. Clarkin struck a two-RBI double to the gap in right-center field, lifting Fairfield’s lead to 6-0.

“I felt like I hit it hard,” Clarkin said of his double. “We all try to hit the ball hard and put it in play.”

Meury followed with a grounder that was mishandled, scoring Clarkin and Prestegard, putting Fairfield up 8-0.

The only concern for Fairfield was whether its outburst would stand against the threatening weather. If the game was called before a full inning was completed, the teams would have to start the game over, with nothing counting.

“We were worried that the game was going to be cancelled and that we were going to waste a pitcher,” Meury said. “We were a little concerned that the game was going to get shot down quickly.”

But fast-working Ryan Meury threw strikes with the eight-run advantage, striking out eight and allowing only Will Boone’s first-inning single.

“It gave me a cushion,” Ryan Meury said. “Even though it was 8-0, I still had to make my pitches and try to get hitters out.”

Meury threw just 56 pitches in four innings, despite a slick ball and less-than-ideal mound conditions.

“The mound was a little wet,” Meury said. “It was a little different than I’m used to ... but I had to just throw my game and see what happens.”;

Fairfield American800 01—9 10 0

Avon000 0x—0 1 3

Records: Fairfield American 1-0; Avon 0-1. Batteries: FA—Ryan Meury (W, 1-0) and Biagio Paoletta; A—Connor Harris (L, 0-1), Dan Renwick (1), Ryan Ollestad (3) and Ryan Ollestad and Eamon Moore (3). Home runs: FA—Dan Kiernan.