ORANGE -- Vince Camera's two-out, walk-off single into left-center field on Thursday night at Roche Field propelled the Fairfield American Little League all-star team to a 2-1 win and a spot in the best-of-three state championship series this weekend in Harwinton.
Camera's hit came in the bottom of the eighth inning in the resumption of Wednesday night's Section 1 championship game against Farmington that was suspended by lightning. Fairfield American (10-1) will meet South Windsor, which beat Madison 8-7 on Thursday afternoon in eight innings of a game that was suspended because of darkness on Wednesday.
Connor O'Neil led off the eighth by drawing a walk. John Reynolds followed with a fielder's choice and moved to second base on a fielder's choice groundout by Jamie Flink. Americans' reliever Brian Howell, who earned the victory on Thursday without throwing a pitch, reached on an infield single to the right side that allowed Reynolds to scoot to third base.
Then Camera drove in Reynolds for his second RBI of the game, which started a celebration on the field. Camera had two of Fairfield's four hits.
"I knew I didn't want to hit a curveball early in the count," said Camera, who blasted his team-leading ninth home run of the summer during Wednesday's second inning. "I wanted to sit on a fastball later in the count. It (game-winning hit) could have happened to anyone on the team. I knew we had an advantage because we had a chance to score (first, in the bottom of the eighth)." "That finished quick," said Dave Conrad, the manager of District 5 and Section 1 Division 2 champions Farmington (12-1). "We knew that could happen. We didn't cover first (on that infield hit); we didn't do what we had to do there.
"(Fairfield starter) PJ Egan was probably the smartest pitcher we saw this year, and Howell was probably the hardest thrower we saw. PJ mixed up his pitches. He got his curveball over, and he made our top batters reach."
Egan pitched 4ï»¿2/3 innings on Wednesday and allowed no hits. Neither did Howell until the top of the seventh.
Conrad said he considered having reliever Ben Scudder issue an intentional walk to Camera. But that would have loaded the bases.
"That was probably my mistake," Conrad said. "We tried to pitch around him. That came back to bite me."
Fairfield manager Michael Steed called Farmington a great team.
"Anything could have happened," he said of the game picking up. "Vince was just amazing. Offensively, it was his game with both our RBIs and two clutch hits.
"I expect the competition (South Windsor) to get even harder," Steed added.
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Little League Section 1 championship
Fairfield American 2, Farmington 1 (8 innings)
FARMINGTON 000 001 00--1 1 3
FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 010 000 01--2 4 1
Records: Farmington 12-1, Fairfield American 10-1. Batteries: F--Benny Hughes, Ben Scudder (7) and Nathan Hughes; FA--PJ Egan, Brian Howell (5) and Vince Camera