By Reid L. Walmark
The Fairfield National Little League all-stars joined their crosstown rivals from the Fairfield American Little League in the four-team District 2 double-elimination tournament by winning its division with an 11-1 victory on Thursday night over Bridgeport North End at Unity Park in Trumbull.
The Fairfield Nationals finished 4-0 to place atop the five-team Blue Division. Bridgeport wound up 0-4, after its loss by the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth inning Thursday night after Fairfield pushed across its 11th run on Brett Lauterbach's two-out, bases-loaded single. Fairfield American wrapped-up pool play in the Red Division on Monday by going 4-0 and finishing atop its group of five.
The Fairfield Americans will play Westport -- which finished in second place in the Blue Division Thursday with an 18-0 win over Trumbull American -- on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Unity Park. At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Fairfield National will play the second-place team in Red, which was decided Thursday night in the game between Monroe and Trumbull National, both of which entered with 2-1 records. The tourament will end on July 12 or 13 with the survivor advancing to the next round of statewide play.
Fairfeld National had a 10-0 lead in the top of the fourth and needed one more out to have earned a 10-0 win that would have ended by the enforcement of the mercy rule. But Bridgeport North End scored on a Fairfield infield error to leave the Nationals with a 10-1 lead entering the bottom of the fourth. Bridgeport pitcher Ramone Virella, who had relieved starter Joaquin Brasher in the middle of the third inning, stranded Fairfield runners on second and third base by striking out his second and third batters of the inning.
"With Westport and Fairfield going to the World Series in the last few years, we have some of the best teams in the country in this district, as far as I'm concerned," said North End manager Jason Brasher. "These guys (Nationals) make contact. They make a lot of contact, and that's the biggest difference between us and Westport, Fairfield and Trumbull, Monroe, too.
"We don't have baseball-only players. I don't know that those teams do for sure, but I imagine that's the case, at least for a lot of them. Those players get private instruction. The economic situation is different in Bridgeport. We have good character guys and that goes a long way beyond baseball."
Fairfield National manager Dr. Brad Weinstein said his team still has a lot of work to do, though he did not rave about his team's performance on Thursday. "When we started pool play, our goal was to make the cross over (to double elimination)," he said. "The boys played well, got some breaks that went their way and we're happy with our position."
Weinstein attributed the weather and the knowledge a loss would have advanced the Nationals anyhow as the second-place team in Blue as the reason for Fairfield's subpar effort.
"I think the boys looked a little bit out of focus today. They weren't as sharp as they usually are."
Fairfield scored six runs in the second inning with RBI from Michael Murphy, Owen Stanton, David Summers and Sam Weinstein (2). In the third inning, Nick Giacomazza, Summers, Joey Gulbin and Chris Saladin had the big hits that helped push across four more runs. Lauterbach threw 55 pitches in three innings as the Fairfield starter. He allowed three hits and two walks and struck out five.
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