Fairfield American one win away from Williamsport

Fairfield American catcher Aidan Rivera looks to tag out New Hampshire’s Brayden Hollinrake. — Bill Bloxsom photos

Fairfield American was a win away from playing for the Little League Eastern Region championship, but the Connecticut state champion trailed New Hampshire kingpin Goffstown 3-0 through three innings of play at the at A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center’s Breen Field in Bristol on Wednesday.

Behind its deep bench, manager Mike Randazzo’s team rallied for five runs in the fourth and four more in the sixth to record a 9-6 victory and remain unbeaten in the summer at 17-0.

Ethan Righter had three hits, including a game-tying single.

Fairfield American will play Friday’s winner between New Hampshire and either Vermont or Maine for the title on Saturday at 1 p.m. With a win, the locals advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport (Pa.) beginning on Aug. 17.

“We’re one win away,” Randazzo said of garnering the Eastern championship. “Everyone comes in and wants to do their part. They all want to contribute to the team and we’ve been doing it all summer. We have a next-man-up mentality. We have five hitters that we have to get in, which is not easy, especially in close games, but we’re not afraid to put anyone up.”

 

Fairfield American had the backing of family and friends.

Ryan Cote came on in relief for Goffstown starter Aiden O’Connell with one out in the top of the fourth inning.

Fairfield American sent four straight substitutes up to hit.

Anthony Falletta singled to left-center field.

Christian Smith walked.

Andrew Cutler then laced a two-run triple inside the first base bag and into the right field corner.

“I just trying to get something going, get those guys in,” Cutler said. “My teammates did a good job getting into scoring position and I was just trying to put the ball in play.”

Griffin Dodder slides safely into third, as Jack Wilkinson looks to make a play.

Griffin Dodder walked to put runners on first and third for team leadoff batter Ethan Righter.

Righter singled to left to tie the game.

“Everyone can hit, starters and subs, we can count on everyone to get us runs and hits,” Righter said. “We’re excited for Saturday.”

Smith aggressively slid in safely at third on a wild pitch, with Righter moving to second base.

Winning pitcher Michael Iannazzo knocked them both in with a single to right field.

Iannazzo retired two batters in the home fourth then left the game after reaching his pitch-count limit (87) . He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out four.

“I just wanted to throw strikes and let our defense work,” Iannazzo said. “I knew that we’d come back. I knew our offense would do it.”

Goffstown scored a run off reliever Matt Vivona in the fifth on a walk and a bloop single to right by Zach Cross.

Righter opened the sixth with his third hit and scored when Aidan Rivera drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs.

Anthony Pollack then broke the seal on the Fairfield American celebration with a base-clearing double, which scored Vivona (walk), Tyler Bauer (walk) and Rivera.

New Hampshire scored three runs in the third.

Singles by Cote and Brayden Hollinrake around a walk to Logan Simmons loaded the bases with no outs.

Vivona fielded Jake Webber’s grounder and fired home to Rivera at the plate.

After a review, Cote was ruled out.

Tyler Mackey then singled to right.

Troy Ashkinos came up throwing and forced Webber at second base.

Vivona alertly fired home and Rivera made a sliding tag on Simmons looking to score the second run on the play.

The call at home was out, but on review was reversed and Goffstown had a 3-0 lead with runners on second and third.

Righter made a fine play on Cam Hujsak’s grounder to deep short to end the inning.

Righter opened the game with a single and Iannazzo doubled.

O’Connell, a hard-throwing left-hander retired the next three batters, two on strikes.

He allowed a two-out walk to Owen Kallagher in the second and a two-out hit to Bivona in the third, before coming out after reaching the 51-65 pitch count (56).

This keeps him available to New Hampshire manager Jeff O’Connell to pitch on Saturday, of Goffstown does advance.

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