Fairfield National beats Westport for District 2 LL 11-year old title
Updated 2:29 pm, Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Fairfield National manager Lenny Klein was right when he told his team before Saturday's Little League District 2 11-year-old championship game against Westport that the first team to three would win.
Never in his wildest dreams, however, did Klein anticipate how his team would reach that magic number.
"I knew three runs would decide it, but I didn't expect that," Klein said after C.J. Palmieri's two-run, walk-off homer gave Fairfield American a 4-2 victory. "When we were down 2-1 (in the bottom of the sixth), I said to them, `Hey, we haven't gotten our three runs yet.' This was typical of our team: no quit; no panic."
Thanks to Palmieri's homer, Fairfield National will begin Sectional Tournament pool play Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Naugatuck against the District 5 champ.
"I wasn't really nervous, I was just waiting for my pitch," Palmieri said of the game's final at bat. "It felt great, too great to explain in words."
While this was a 2-1 game going into the bottom of the sixth, it was anything but a typical pitchers' duel, even though each team had its ace throwing.
"These were two of the best pitchers in the state but both struggled with their command early," Westport manager Tim Rogers said. "Neither had their A game, but neither team could capitalize."
Fairfield starter Alexy Linsenmeyer walked four and hit a batter in the first two innings. But Westport (5-2) left the bases loaded each inning without scoring. Meanwhile,
Westport's Chad Knight (80 pitches in three innings) walked five in the first two innings. Fairfield left five on base but did manage to push across a first-inning run on Palmieri's bases-loaded walk.
Fairfield National (7-0) still led 1-0 after four innings but at that point the two teams had combined to leave 16 runners on base (21 combined for the game)
"I think both teams were a little nerved up," Klein said. "But the pitchers made the pitches when they had to."
Linsenmeyer had thrown 75 pitches through four innings before Westport's Chris Drbal homered in the fifth to tie it. Max Popken followed with a single, and then Linsenmeyer was replaced by Palmieri, who allowed a tie-breaking triple to Matt Stone.
It appeared the game was over. But Drbal's throw to first was wide and Vincent scored. Next up was Palmieri.
"Even (on the grounder to short), I didn't think we'd lose," Palmieri said. "We always come back somehow."
"Drbal is one of our studs," Rogers added. "He makes that play all the time. But that's baseball."
Stone had a double and triple for Westport. Palmieri had three RBI and Gabe Andrews two hits for Fairfield National.
Fairfield National 4, Westport 2
WESTPORT 000020--2 5 1
FAIRFIELD NATIONAL 100 003--4 6 2
Records: Westport 5-2, Fairfield National 7-0
Batteries: W--Chad Knight, Alec Burns (4, L) and Matt Stone; FN--AlexyLinsenmeyer, C.J. Palmieri (5, W) and Daniel Fallacaro. Doubles: W--Stone; FN--Sam Vincent. Triples: W--Stone. Home Runs: FN--Palmieri.