Superb summer comes to end

Fairfield American had found a way in five previous elimination games to keep its Little League season alive.

Quinton Gago from Petaluma, Calif., was too hard for Fairfield bats to battle, however, when the locals lost a 5-0 decision in the World Series to the West champions in Williamsport, Pa. on Tuesday night.

“You couldn’t have had a more exciting summer that you guys had had,” Fairfield manager Bill Meury said to his team gathered in the outfield at Howard J. Lamade Stadium while an ESPN2 audience listened in.

“Remember this, you guys put together probably the most memorable summer in Fairfield American history …

“You’ve been terrific since you were 10 years old, doesn’t get better.

“The three of us [coaches John Lucas and T.J. Paoletta] love you guys to death … You guys should know that.

“And, its sad that we’ve lost this ballgame all right, but you guys have played so well for so long, you’re like brothers.

“And, that’s the way we’re going to walk off this field —like a family.”

Gago allowed only two hits, struck out seven, and escaped trouble in the first two innings when Fairfield put two runners aboard in each frame.

Hance Smith hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the third to extend Petaluma’s lead to 4-0, after it had scored an unearned run in the second.

Matt Kubel brought a 5-0 record with a 0.98 ERA into the United States pool contest, and the lefthander allowed only one earned run, which came in the fifth inning.

Petaluma took the lead after a misplayed fly ball by Henry Prestegaard in right-center with one out put Gago on second base and James O’Hanlon singled pinch runner Austin Paretti to third.

Fairfield shortstop Will Lucas made a great play, as he dove to his right to steal a hit away from Cole Tomei, and threw to Michael Ghiorzi covering second for the force out.

Paretti scored on the play and after a single by Porter Slate, Kubel got Logan Douglas to fly out to Prestegaard in right.

Will Lucas and Kubel walked with two out in the first, before Gago struck out Kevin Oricoli.

Ghiorzi singled to open the top of the second, and Matty Clarkin reached when his chopper resulted in a throwing error trying to get the force out at second base.

Petaluma got out of trouble when third baseman Cole Tomei made a great play and turned Prestegaard’s bunt into a 5-6-3 double play.

Petaluma had singles from Douglas and Bradley Smith in the bottom of the first, but Kubel, who opened the frame with a strikeout, put the third out in the book on strikes to strand a pair.

Oricoli made a great running catch on Danny Marzo’s fly ball to the wall in left field to open the inning.

But, Bradley Smith reached on a strikeout/wild pitch, and Paretti joined him on the bases on a Kubel error.

Hance Smith followed with his long home run and Fairfield was chasing a four-run deficit.

Gago, a lefthander who hadn’t yet started a game in the World Series, set down 11 batters in a row until Ryan Meury led off Fairfield’s sixth with a double up the alley in right-center field.

Gago used up the rest of his pitching allowance to retire Biagio Paoletta on a grounder to second before giving way to fellow southpaw Andrew White.

Will Lucas kept Fairfield’s come back hopes alive when he beat out a chopper back to the mound.

With runners on the corners, Hance Smith fielded Kubel’s hard grounder up the middle, stepped on second, and fired to first base for the game-ending double play.

Fairfield had lost to Petaluma, 6-4 in its opener, and then defeated Kearney, Neb. 12-0 and New Castle, Ind. 4-0, to stay alive.

Petaluma split its games after its opening win, losing to Goodlettsville, Tenn. 9-6 and defeating Parsippanny, N.J. 5-4 in eight innings.

The Goodlettesville, Tenn., Southeast champions and San Antonio, Texas, Southwest champions have each won its first two game to move into the winner’s bracket final set for Wednesday night.

Petaluma will play the loser of that game on Thursday night at 8.

The United State final will be Saturday at 3:30, with the World Series final on Sunday at 3 p.m. Both games will be televised on ABC.

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