It was the type of game-ender that had victorious Trumbull National players smiling from ear to ear; and left the rallying Westport All-Stars with slumping shoulders.
“I saw it coming and I knew if I missed it and the ball went through they would win,” Trumbull second baseman Jackson DePino said after he speared a line drive with the tying run on second and turned it into a double play to close out a 4-3 victory in the opening game of the double elimination round of the District 2 Little League tournament at Unity Park on Monday night.
DePino caught John Staub’s rip of a line drive, steadied himself, and tossed to shortstop Luca Antonio to double off Andrew Hess.
“Jackson had the big play, the big hit and that’s why he has the game ball,” Trumbull National manager Matthew Wood said. “This was a big stage and when the lights came on, all the work in practice that Jackson put in the last few years came into play.”
Trumbull will play Fairfield American in a winner’s bracket game on Wednesday at 5:30 at Unity Park. Westport will meet Fairfield National, a 10-1 loser in the second semifinal, on Tuesday at 5:30 to see which team will continue its summer for at least one more day.
“Staub hits the ball on the button and they made a great play,” Westport manager Jim Farnen said. “That is a good ball club over there…What you expect from Trumbull. They were resilient. There is no quit in my team. The finality (of that play) hurt, now we have another game tomorrow.”
Westport took a 3-0 lead in the first inning with Hess singling in one run and Nate Barrett doubling home a pair.
Trumbull drew one run back in the third on Matthew Woods’ single to the gap in right-center field.
It tied the game in the fourth when DePino went the other way on a 3-1 pitch and deposited the ball in left-center field for a two-run double.
Antonio’s RBI single plated Jeff Kraus, who had led off the inning by legging out an infield hit, in the fifth inning.
Jake Colucci came on in relief for starter A.J. Albaladejo in the bottom of the third and set down nine consecutive batters heading into the home sixth.
Grant Ziegler led off with a single before DePino turned Hess’s grounder to the right side into a fielder’s choice at second base.
Barrett worked out a walk on a 3-2 pitch to move the tying run into scoring position, but DePino then worked his magic.
Sean Francoeur, DePino and Kraus had hits for Trumbull in the third inning.
Max Jossen, Ziegler, Hess, Barrett, Staub and Jack Farnen had hits for Westport.
Albaladejo and Hayden Brill had hits to set up Trumbull’s two-run fourth.
Straub started a 4-6-3 double play turned by Chase Siegel with the bases loaded in Trumbull’s third.
After Kraus’ single to open the fifth, Colucci walked before Antonio’s RBI hit. Albaladejo had a hit in the frame.