ORANGE -- Farmington was one strike away from being no-hit and losing by a run to the Fairfield American Little League all-star team Wednesday night for the state Section 1 championship at Roche Field and a berth in the state championship series this weekend in Harwinton.
But on the 0-2 pitch, Farmington's Jacob Conrad bounced a ball to deep short with a runner at third base, where a Fairfield backup at that position had to charge the ball and couldn't come up with the handle. Ben Scudder reached on the error and Conrad scored the tying run.
With the score tied 1-1 as the bottom of the eighth inning was about to start, umpires halted play because of lightning off in the distance but visible. The game was officially suspended at around 10:15 p.m..
The game will resume at 7 p.m. on Thursday with Connor O'Neill of the Americans about to face Farmington relief pitcher Scudder. Site director Denis Haley and other officials from the host District 4 were in communication with Little League regional headquarters in Bristol during the weather delay that began at 8:35 p.m. The managers, Michael Steed of Fairfield and Dave Conrad of Farmington, reached a decision to end the waiting game and to resume action on Thursday.
Thursday's Fairfield American-Farmington survivor will play the winner of the Section 2 final that was suspended in West Hartford with Madison and South Windsor tied at 7-7. The two-of-three series to determine the Connecticut champion begins in Harwinton on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Vince Camera hit an opposite-field home run to right field leading in the second inning for Fairfield. He scorched a line drive that just made it over the fence. Back-to-back infield errors by Farmington put runners on second and third base, but Farmington starter Benny Hughes struck out the next three American batters.
Hughes was replaced by Scudder for the seventh inning after reaching the 85-pitch limit. Hughes allowed two hits -- PJ Egan, Fairfield's starting pitcher, singled leading off the fifth -- no walks and struck out 12. Hughes was no more effective than Egan, who left after one out in the top of the fifth inning having made 66 pitches. Egan gave up no hits, but three walks, and chalked up six strikeouts.
"It was a pitchers' duel that you see at every level of baseball," Steed said.
He called it Egan's best performance of the tournament season and said no pitcher Fairfield has faced has thrown with more velocity than Hughes.
"He had a good change-up and a good curveball. And he threw them for strikes. He's the real deal," Steed said.
"It's been a matter of our bats going quiet the last two games," Dave Conrad said. "But I'm sure you've got to attribute that to their pitchers."
Starting shortstop Brian Howell relieved Egan and threw 52 pitches. He gave up a hit to pinch-hitter Steve Pierra leading off the top of the seventh inning. Howell walked no one, struck out four but did hit a batter.
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Little League Section 1 championship
Fairfield American 1, Farmington 1 (suspended)
FARMINGTON 000 001 00--1 1 3
FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 010 000 00--1 2 1
Records: Farmington 12-0, Fairfield American 9-1.
Batteries: F--Benny Hughes, Ben Scudder (7) and Nathan Hughes; FA--PJ Egan, Brian Howell (5) and Vince Camera.