Little League: Nationals advance to District 2 semis

Jake Gruttadauria did the pitching, Matt Bagley headlined a stellar defensive effort, and Trumbull National advanced to the District 2 Little League 12 year old semifinals with a 9-1 victory over Monroe at Unity Field on Sunday.

Alex Pagliarini had a three-run double and Denny Rotunno a two-run home run to lead a 10-hit attack for the Nationals, who went 3-1 in pool play.

Trumbull, the second-place finisher to Fairfield American (4-0) in the Red Division, will play Blue Division first-place finisher Westport (4-0) in the  second game of the double-elimination portion of the tournament on Wednesday at 7:30 at Unity Field

No. 1. Fairfield National (3-1), Red Division runner-up, will play Fairfield American at 5:30.

“I think what carried us in districts was our pitching,” said Trumbull National manager Chris Gruttadauria, who was assisted by Pat Quinn and Jay Allen. “Our defense has been solid every game and we’ve gotten timely hitting.”

The Nationals poured six runs across in the second inning against Monroe (2-2), which needed a win to have a hope to advance.

John Morello opened the rally with a single and Lukas Chamberlain had a base hit to set the stage for Jack Allen’s RBI single.

Matt Gay’s squeeze bunt scored Chamberlain and Allen crossed the plate on Steven Tabacco’s fielder’s choice grounder.

Jake Gruttadauria reached on an error and Bagley walked to load the bases for Pagliarini, who muscled a bases-clearing double to deep right field.

Monroe saw first baseman Bagley make a fine play on Kevin Luke’s hard grounder to the right side and toss to Jake Gruttadauria covering the bag in the opening inning.

In the second, Monroe’s Connor Rownin doubled only to be left stranded when Bagley went to his right to snag Joey Coscia liner. Jake Gruttadauria then got the last out with a strikeout.

The Nationals went to their bench to threaten again in the third inning.

Ryan Quinn opened the frame with a single, and after Ryan Simpson went down swinging, L.J. Chamberlain bunted his way aboard. Monroe’s shortstop Evan LaGuardia made a fine play on Tabacco’s grounder by the second base bag to get out of the jam.

Trumbull tacked on three runs in the home fourth

Jake Gruttadauria singled to center before Monroe pitcher Philip Hayes retired the next two batters.

Morello doubled a run home, before Rotunno hammered his home run to dead center to take the score to 9-1.

Hayes had led off the Monroe third with a home run to center, for the visitors’ second and last hit off Jake Gruttadauria, as the righthander finished with nine strikeouts in his five innings of work.

After the home run, Palermo walked and went to second on a wild pitch. He was thrown out by Allen at the plate looking to advance on a short passed ball.

Pagliarini came on in relief with one runner on base in the sixth, as Mateo Perpetuo had reached on Trumbull’s only error.

He gave up a single to Matthew McGovern, before Allen threw down to Jake Gruttaduaria now at third to erase Perpetuo. A comebacker ended the game.

“This is a great group,” Chris Gruttadauria said. “Last year as 11s it was the same thing. We got to the district semis and here they’ve done it again.”