HARWINTON -- During Fairfield American's run through the district, divisional and sectional tournaments to reach the best-of-three state championship series, players have had less-than-shining moments here and there. But these individual players' abilities to bounce back in the next at bat or time in the field have complemented their overall strength and consistency all around the diamond.
Now add a rebound performance by a pitcher to Fairfield's arsenal.
Sam Davenport's resiliency on the mound -- following an outing on July 19 against Norwalk, the first game of the Division 1 finals, in which he gave up eight runs in four innings -- lifted Fairfield to within one win of the state championship and a berth in the New England regional in Bristol next weekend. The Americans beat South Windsor National 10-0 in five innings on Saturday afternoon at the Harwinton Sports Complex and improved to 11-1 behind Davenport's two-hitter.
Davenport struck out six and walked one. He induced nine ground-outs. Few were hit sharply; all were fielded and thrown cleanly and always to the appropriate base. Davenport threw hard, but his secret was masterly location, his knockout the effective mixing of his fastball and breaking pitch.
"His curveball made us look out of it," said Steve Curtis, manager of South Windsor (12-1), which had been on the long end of nine victories through the mercy rule, which i is invoked when there is a lead of 10 runs or more at any point after the fourth inning has begun.
Catcher Vince Camera's bases-loaded single drove home the Americans' ninth and 10th runs, creating the mercy-rule victory.
"The first inning is the hardest," Davenport said. "In my last outing, I had a rough first inning (seven Norwalk runs). I wanted to do well after that. (Third baseman) Brian Kiremidjian made a real nice play and (shortstop) Brian Howell had a couple of nice ones. Everyone did well (in the field). We did it together."
Fairfield manager Michael Steed praised Davenport's work ethic in practice to overcome the loss to Norwalk.
"He did a fanstastic job," Steed said. "He's got great stuff. Every pitcher is going to have a bad outing at any level of baseball. Over the last week, he worked hard on his mechanics. He worked on getting the right arm slot." Fairfield scored four runs on four hits and two errors in the first inning. Jamie Flink, Howell and Ian Bentley each stroked doubles in that inning. Krimedjian's double in the fourth knocked in two runs. The Americans' capitalized on South Windsor's five errors.
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State Little League finals
SOUTH WINDSOR 000 00--0 2 5
FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 401 32--10 9 0
Records: South Windsor 12-1, Fairfield American 11-1. Batteries: SW--Brady Ward, Jacob Main (5) and Julian Palladino; FA--Sam Davenport and Vince Camera.