Fairfield's American Legion Post 143 baseball team for 13- through 15 year olds was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on July 30, losing to Ridgefield 11-10 in eight innings at Owen Fish Park. Post 143 finished 2-1 in the tournament and 20-10 overall, playing in Zone 4 in the regular season.
Fairfield advanced to the round of eight by defeating Branford 6-5 in 10 innings on July 29.
Eleven of the 16 players on the team will return in 2015. Most were members of the 2013 Fairfield National Little League team that was runner-up in District 2 behind Westport, which later reached the national championship game in the World Series in Pennsylvania.
Post 143 got into trouble in the second inning against Ridgefield on some errors and walks and fell behind 6-1. Fairfield rallied in the sixth and seventh innings, with right fielder Bryan Azarian delivering the big blow in each inning. In the sixth, he smacked a bases-clearing double that cut Post 143's deficit to 9-6. In the next inning, Azarian slugged a three-run triple that made the score 10-10.
In the top of the eighth inning, Ridgefield drew a leadoff walk, then two doubles produced the go-ahead run. Post 143 did not rally in the bottom of the inning, said Sars Ford, the general manager of Post 143 baseball.
Ben Foster, who will be a sophomore at Fairfield Warde High School when the 2014-15 school year opens later this month, came on in relief in the third inning for Azarian against Ridgefield and went the rest of the way on the mound. Azarian threw a no-hitter earlier in the summer.
Jonathan Hogarth, soon to be a 10th-grader at Warde, was one of Fairfield's most consistent hitters, batting third in the lineup and contributing many doubles this summer. Ari Prospotoulos, headed to Warde as a sophomore, was the catcher and supplied a lefty bat in the lineup, often hitting fifth in the order.
Joey Mancini, who will enter Fairfield Prep as a freshman, led the team in victories as the No. 1 starter.
Head coach Bill Llewellyn said his roster had eight 13 year olds and as many 14 year olds.
Llewellyn cited the hitting contributions summerlong from AJ Valus and Christo Bogan. CJ Palmieri, Steven Paolini, Mark Vinci and Alex Linsenmeyer complemented Mancini and Azarian on the mound throughout the season. Izaake Zuckerman played well at catcher, as did Valus, in backing up Prospotoulos.
"All in all, we had a very competitive and successful first season in Legion and look forward to next year," Bill Llewellyn said.