Fairfield Nationals win Sectional

The Fairfield National Little League 10-11 All-Star team was well aware of Darien American’s ability to come back from large deficits, afterall the locals led Darien by a 6-3 margin with two outs in the sixth inning only to lose in District II bracket play last Thursday.

This time manager Lenny Klein’s team took a 10-1 lead and escaped a pair of late-inning bases-loaded situations to defeat Darien, 11-6, to win the Section I championship at Peter J. Foley Field in Naugatuck on Wednesday night.

“Even at 10-1 I wasn’t comfortable,” said Klein, whose team will play the Section II champion in a best-of-three series beginning Saturday at 7 p.m. at Detorre Field in Manchester.

“We knew they [Darien] wouldn’t give up.”

Fairfield scored three runs in the first inning, three in the second and two in the third, and two in the fourth.

Alexy Linsenmeyer got the start for the Nationals and the right-hander was sharp.

He gave up a run in the second, but left the bases loaded when he retired Darien’s leadoff hitter Jake Hyde on a grounder to Mark Vinci at first.

Linsenmeyer’s two-run homer brought the score to 10-1 in the bottom of the fourth and that made his manager go back on his first instinct.

“I don’t like to look too far ahead, but Alexy was at 61 pitches and I knew if he came out after four, and we won up 10-1, he’d be able to pitch on Sunday in the second game of states,” Klein said.

“My plan was to ride him [Linsenmeyer], but I made the change and our kids battled…battled and battled.”

C.J. Palmieri came in to pitch the fifth and put two outs in the book on strikes around a walk and a single.

Down on the scoreboard, Darien showed patience here, and worked out three free passes to make it 10-3 before a 2-2 pitch clipped Nathan Hadlow to force home another tally.

Daniel Fallicaro got the call and needed only four pitches to record a strike out and again leave the bags full.

“C.J. is our No. 2 starter and got off fine, but then had trouble with the strike zone,” Klein said.

“Daniel is our No. 1 catcher, but I knew we’d go to him if needed.”

Fairfield drew one run back to lead 11-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

Darien came up for its last at-bat and Fallicaro retired the first two hitters on strikes.

The right hander gave up a walk, and then got to two strikes on three straight batters only to have them reach on a single and two walks.

The bases were loaded and the score was 11-5.

Fallicaro didn’t back down, as he got ahead 0-2 in the count, and then tried to get Nicholas Conte to swing at a low pitch, but the right-handed swinger held up.

Conte sent the next pitch into the outfield, but Linsenmeyer backtracked from his shortstop position and reached up and made the game-ending catch.

Mystic or Coginchaug will provide the opposition this weekend.

“We’ve told the team that this is baseball, and that times will come in each game when they would have an opportunity,” said Klein, who was assisted by Craig Curley and Phil Palmieri.

“We have no star. Each day it’s a different guy. Tonight, Alexy had the bomb [home run] and pitched great.

“Give my guys credit. It’s so cliche, but they battle. We’ve been playing or practicing for 45 days and they still want more.”

Stephen Paolini and Fallicaro opened the home first with singles and rode home on Owen Polley’s triple. He scored on C.J. Palmieri’s RBI grounder.

Christopher Bogan, who made a fine catch in left-center field in the Darien third, ripped a ball up the middle that was gloved by Darien starter Jack Bogdan.

Sam Vincent followed with a single only to be stranded.

Connor Curley and Paolini had back-to-back doubles after Linsenmeyer was hit by a pitch to start the second.

Fallicaro greeted relief pitcher Max Deberadinis with an RBI single to up the count to 6-1.

Sammy Klein walked with one out in the the third before Linsenmeyer and Connor Curley singled to load the bases.

Paolini had an RBI single and another run scored on Polley’s fielder’s choice grounder.

Gabe Andrew, who came in to catch when Fallicaro took the mound, singled in the fourth and trotted home on Linsenmeyer’s home run to left field.

Polley singled to begin the fifth, and when C.J. Palmieri ground out to short, Polley took off for third and forced an errant throw that saw him score for an 11-4 lead.

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