Hits were at a premium, timely at bats were more rare, and in the end it was the speed of a base runner that proved decisive when Trumbull defeated Fairfield, 5-3, in a District 2 Little League 11U softball elimination game at Unity Field 4 in Trumbull on Thursday night.
With the victory, Trumbull forced a third game to determine the district champ which is scheduled for Saturday at 12 p.m. at Unity Field 4.
Fairfield had won the opener, 12-9, before Trumbull avoided elimination.
Cassidy McGill worked out a walk to open the top of the fifth inning for Trumbull.
That brought the top of the order to the plate, with Raylen Massey stepping in with her team trailing 3-2. She made a fine bunt up the first base line, which the fleet-footed Massey beat out.
You may not be able to teach speed, but you can learn to use it on the base paths.
Massey made a wide turn after crossing the bag at first and headed for second. This forced a low throw, as McGill came around to score.
Massey wasn’t done. She took off for third and made it safely.
Caroline Hall followed with a bunt of her own. With Massey edging off third, Hall steamed into second without a throw.
Alyssa Russo, who had come on in relief of starting pitcher Alex Lewey to open the inning, would strike out three batters. But not before Massey and Hall crossed the plate on balls that went to the backstop. Trumbull led, 5-3.
Fairfield’s Maggie Swanson, from the top of the batting order, led off the home fifth with a walk and used her speed to steal second.
Hall set down the next three batters on a pop up to the circle and line drives to Ava Mullen at shortstop.
After Trumbull’s Carolyn Novia made a strong throw from third on Paige O’Neill’s bunt attempt to open the seventh, Fairfield put the pressure on.
Kelley Monahan singled to right, and beat Claire Davis’ strong throw looking to nab her at first.
Griffin Paladino worked out a walk to put the tying runs on base.
Massey, playing first base, made a tumbling catch near the Fairfield dugout on Lewey’s foul pop.
Carol Reis then lined a 1-2 pitch into the hole, where Trumbull’s Brianna Buda made a quick snag of the shot and tossed to Massey for the third out.
Fairfield took a 3-0 lead in the third, with Lewey delivering the big hit with a two-run single.
Ari Kedersha and O’Neill had led off the frame with walks and Monahan was hit by a pitch.
Paladino’s ground out to Becca Sexton at second was good for an RBI, before Lewey singled to center.
Hall struck out the next two batters.
Trumbull got back in it at 3-2 in the fourth.
Meagan McDonald slapped a bad hop single to right for Trumbull’s first hit.
Fairfield then turned a strikeout into a double play, with O’Neill at third base tagging out the pinch runner.
Trumbull kept at it.
Sexton worked the first walk off Lewey and Davis doubled the other way down the left field line to make it 3-1.
Novia then singled to right field to cut the margin to one.
Trumbull is managed by Jay Massey.
Team members are Raylen Massey, Caroline Hall, Meagan McDonald, Ava Mullen, Becca Sexton, Claire Davis, Carolyn Novia, Julianna Cliffate, Mia Giblen, Gianna Story, Analise Hubert, Brianna Buda and Cassidy McGill.
Fairfield is managed by Jeff Russo.
Team members are Maggie Swanson, Lauren Foley, Alyssa Russo, Ari Kedersha, Paige O’Neill, Kelley Monahan, Griffin Paladino, Alex Lewey, Carol Reis, Morgan McGowan, Grace Farrell and Izzy Mulhall.