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Friday, March 23 Sports

Fairfield American LL advances to Section I title game

ORANGE -- After winning three days earlier in a pitchers' duel to reach the Section 1 Division 1 finals at Old Tavern Road Park, the Fairfield American Little League all-star team won the divisional championship on Sunday by being forced to emerge from a slugfest. The Americans cracked four home runs to Norwalk's three, and scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to break a tie.

Fairfield American outscored Norwalk for a 10-7 victory at Roche Field, a day after losing to the District 1 champs 8-4, to advance to Wednesday's sectional championship game against the survivor of the Division 2 final between Farmington and Seymour. The winner of that Wednesday game at Roche Field goes to the state finals next weekend in Harwinton against the Section 2 champions.

Fairfield starting pitcher Jamie Flink, who was relieved after giving up a leadoff single in the fourth inning, smashed three home runs in four at bats. His two-run shot with none out in the sixth gave the Americans a 9-7 lead, then Brian Howell, who minutes later earned the save by facing four batters in the bottom of the inning, belted his team-leading ninth homer of the summer for the 10th run.

Flink finished with five runs batted in. He drilled a solo shot to give Fairfield (9-1) a 5-0 lead in the second inning and a two-run homer in the fourth, for a 7-5 lead, before his sixth-inning heroics. Flink, who went yard on Thursday against Norwalk (10-3), said he had never pounded three home runs in a game before. He has seven homers in the tournament season, third most on the team.

Also for the first time in his tourney career, Fairfield second baseman Jack Steed went 4-for-4. He had two doubles and scored a run. The Americans outhit Norwalk 14-10.

"We knew as long as we stayed together and put good swings on the ball, good things would happen," said Flink, who struck out a batter and walked one in facing a total of seven batters in Norwalk's scoreless first and second innings.

"Brian Howell, who was going to close it out for us, said, `We need runs,'" said Flink, who gave up six hits and two home runs in Norwalk's five-run third inning.

Ian Bentley, who relieved on Saturday, replaced Flink on the mound in the fourth inning as Norwalk's sluggers made it 7-7. He pitched a scoreless fifth inning.

"The five games they had to play (in the divisional) certainly depleted their pitching," Fairfield manager Mike Steed said of Norwalk. "When we had that five-run lead, I knew it was not safe."

rwalmark@bcnnew.com; 203-337-4879; twitter.com/ReidWalmark

FAIRFIELD AMERICAN 140 203--10 14 0

NORWALK 005 200--7 10 2

Records: Fairfield American 9-1, Norwalk 10-3. Batteries: FA--Jamie Flink, Ian Bentley (4), Brian Howell (6) and Vince Camera; N--Jake Deleo, Mark Boyian (2) and Jake Dumas.