Trumbull National advances with win over rival

Little League baseball is a game punctuated by home runs.

Trumbull National coach John Bova is well-aware of this fact. In turn, he’s preached the tried-and-true philosophy of pitching and defense to his team this summer in order to limit the damage caused by homers.

That method proved successful Thursday night at an exceedingly muggy Unity Park, with Trumbull National defeating rival Trumbull American 8-3 in the District 2 loser’s bracket final.

As a result Trumbull National moved to the District championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday vs. Fairfield American at Unity Park.

“Home runs get all the press right, but we preach to the boys: pitching and defense,” Bova said. “They learned it from a young age. Our kids play defense. I think we haven’t made an error in three games. It’s Little League baseball, a walk and an error is just as good as a hit. We play fundamental defense.”

A home run, however, got National off to a good start when Jack Wallace lined a Dylan Moran offering over the fence in left-center, giving his team a 1-0 lead two batters in.

National never trailed with pitchers Camp O’Connell, Justin Delaney and Luke Masiuk doing enough to hold the American bats in check, avoiding major damage throughout.

Up 3-0 in the bottom of the third inning,  the game shifted on an inning-ending 4-6-3 double-play, expertly turned by Sean Potvin and Joey DeRienzo.

The play nullified a two-on, out-out threat by American.

Missed opportunities were the theme for Trumbull American, which left eight runners on base.

“We did have several opportunities,” American coach Tim Honychurch . “We had runners on base and could have made it an interesting game a couple times, but we couldn’t execute those.”

Lifted by the double play, National extended their lead to 7-0 in the fourth highlighted by a two-out RBI double by Wallace followed by a two-run homer to left by Delaney.

In their half of the fourth American loaded the bases with one out. A nice play by Johnny Bova at third base on a ball hit by Peter Antoniou helped hold the home side to only one run.

American added two runs on wild pitches in the bottom of the sixth, scored by Henry Honychurch and Jack Ligouri.

Despite moving onto the final, Thursday’s win wasn’t a total celebration for National.

“It’s a little bittersweet because we play with a lot of these boys in the spring in our travel program,” the elder Bova said. “Two of our better pitchers in this town went against each other tonight and we were fortunate we came out on top.”