Fairfield American used a fairly straightforward strategy en route to the 2016 District 2 Little League title: hit … and then hit some more. American pounded out 12 hits — including seven singles in a five-run second — to defeat Trumbull National 6-3 in the District final Saturday at Unity Park.
Fairfield American finished the tournament 7-0 and advances to Sectionals next week at Unity.
Milford National will play play Stamford North Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. at Unity Park in the first-game of the round robin format.
Fairfield American plays Milford on Wednesday at 5:45 them takes on Stamford Thursday.
The top two teams play for the title on Friday at 7 p.m.
“We do BP (batting practice) every day so it comes normal when it comes to the game,” said Richie Kerstetter, the tournament MVP.
Matt Longo took care of the rest on the mound, holding Trumbull National to two runs — on three hits — over 5 2/3 innings.
“I mixed in my off speed (pitch) more to keep them off balance and kept throwing strikes,” said Longo, who finished with 10 strikeouts.
Trumbull National did make things interesting in its final at-bat.
Longo left the game after recording the first two outs of the sixth, his pitch count at 87. Down to its last out, Trumbull mounted a comeback attempt.
Joey DiRienzo doubled down the rightfield line, followed by an RBI single from Kenny Martin which made it 6-3. Dima Neal then singled, bringing the tying run to the plate. Fairfield reliever Jack Gremse got a strikeout for the final out, prompting a team celebration on the mound.
“I’m really proud of the boys, they fought to the last strike,” Trumbull manager John Bova said. “Tip your cap to (Fairfield American), they hit the baseball. We didn’t walk many guys. We didn’t give it to them, they earned it. They hit the baseball.”
Fairfield American got all the runs it would need in the second, highlighted by a two-run single by Ben Gaffney. Michael Iannazzo, Martin Merturi and Kerstetter each drove in a run, as Fairfield American strung together six straight singles in the second.
Down 5-0 Trumbull National fought back in the third. Luke Masiuk homered to deep left, with the ball landing atop a tent positioned in the outfield. Camp O’Connell’s RBI groundout scored Jack Wallace to make it 5-2.
Fairfield American padded its lead in the fourth on an RBI single from Matthew Sawyer. It could’ve been a much bigger inning for Fairfield American but Masiuk, who came on for starter Justin Delaney in the third, got out of a bases loaded, no-out jam by inducing three straight fielder’s choices on the infield.
“Luke Masiuk did a great job,” Bova said. “The bases were loaded with no outs. I think we had a ground ball to Camp O’Connell at first, Joey DeRienzo at short and Johnny Bova at third that stopped the rally. They made the plays, but he made the pitches.”
Fairfield American will relish the District 2 crown, but knows there is a lot more to play for this summer.
“Like all tournament, the bats were hot, up-and-down the lineup. That’s been the theme for us,” Fairfield American manager Brian Grady said. “We celebrate this today and tomorrow and start working again Monday and Tuesday to get ready for the game on Wednesday.”