Americans win; Flink hits three home runs

Major League baseball might’ve had its Home Run Derby a week ago last Monday at its mid-summer classic, but the Fairfield American Little League All-Star team put on a long-ball hitting display of its own on Sunday afternoon in the District 1 championship game played at Roche Field in Orange.
Fairfield’s sluggers clubbed four long-balls, three by Jamie Flink and one from Brian Howell, in a 10-7 win over Norwalk, which earned the team the title and a berth opposite Farmington in the Sectional final on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Orange.
Fairfield jumped out to a 5-0 lead, saw Norwalk, which had beaten them, 8-4, the previous day to stay alive, tie it with a five-run, third-inning surge, before re-taking the edge with two more runs in the fourth.
That didn’t hold up, however, as Norwalk tied it again, this time, at 7, with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame.
After a scoreless fifth, Fairfield pushed across three runs in the top of the sixth before shutting down Norwalk in the bottom half to secure the victory.
Flink, a left-handed hitter, drove the first pitch he saw to the opposite field. The ball cleared the fence in left, scoring John Reynolds, who had three hits on the day, giving Fairfield a 9-7 lead.
“I’ve never hit three home runs in a game, never,” Flink said. “We pretty much figured that this would be a high-scoring game. I think our team was little tight starting out. We just tried to stay as loose as we could and take good swings.”
Following Flink’s third round-tripper and a five RBI-day, Howell, who came on to pitch the sixth, hit his team’s fourth homer in the game.
“This was great Little League baseball,” said Fairfield manager Mike Steed. “There’s a beauty and a cruelty to this game. I know it will be tough for those kids (Norwalk) to have to go home today. They’re a really great team.
“We knew, even after taking a 5-0 lead, that they were likely to come back and they sure did.”
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first when Reynolds scored following a sacrifice fly to left by Vince Camera, Fairfield exploded in the second against Norwalk pitcher Jake Deleo.
Ian Bentley opened with a single up the middle and moved to third when Jack Steed doubled to right center.
Brian Kiramidjian’s single sent Bentley home and Steed to third. Consecutive passed balls gave Fairfield two more runs and a 4-0 lea.d before Flink’s first of three homers, a drive which cleared the fence in deep center field.
Undaunted, Norwalk charged back. Jake Dumas led off with a homer and five straight hits, including a home run from Jack Matthews, tied the game at 5.
Flink’s second homer which came after a single by Mathews, allowed Fairfield to charge back out front, 7-5.
But Norwalk came right back again. A two-run dinger by Jack Fitzpatrick produced the game’s second tie.
“We were pretty much depleted of pitching going into this game,” said Norwalk coach Paul Boyian.  “It isn’t easy playing five games (the team beat Annex of New Haven twice between its games with Fairfield) in five days. I think they have to re-think this District tournament format.
“I don’t know why they only have three teams instead of four. Fairfield got a bye and that, no matter how you look at it, makes a difference.”
The winners finished with 16 hits, including three each from Reynolds, Flink, Howell and Steed and used three pitchers – Flink, Bentley and Howell.
“You’ve got to give those Norwalk kids lots of credit,” Mike Steed said. “They were patient. They took counts to 3-1 and even 3-2 before looking for a good swing. They were formidable and gave us fits at times over the past three days.”

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