Little League’s East Regional Assistant Director Corey Wright was at Fairfield American’s state tournament game one on Saturday in New Haven. In the first inning, he approached me and asked if I’d be going to Bristol to cover the New England regionals again.
I said yes, as long as Fairfield was in it.
Wright departed after about two innings, shook my hand and said “we’ll see you later this week.”
It was that obvious that Fairfield American was that much better than Avon in the best-of-three state championship series.
American swept Avon, 2-0, outscoring its northern adversary 18-0 in two games, capping the greatest three-year run in Connecticut Little League history, and perhaps the most dominant state finals in this state’s history.
But what else would you expect from this group?
I said on Twitter Saturday that I see this team reaching the Little League World Series. I’ve been saying all along that this was the most dominant of the three American teams.
Only the 2010 squad could make an argument, considering it entered regionals undefeated and outscored Madison 26-5 in two state championship games. But this team’s dominant and I think its pitching is better.
It’s hard to gauge talent at the state, sectional and district level, but this club has it all. It has an ace, Ryan Meury; two more very good starting pitchers in Will Lucas and Matt Kubel; an explosive lineup where just about everyone can hit the ball out of the ballpark; a bench– Dan Kiernan has three home runs that I’ve seen so far. Fairfield also plays solid defense and is opportunistic when other teams don’t play good defense.
“Everybody on our team can hit,” catcher Biagio Paoletta said. “It’s great knowing that 1-9, everybody can hit.”
The only thing that may beat Fairfield is its bullpen, but I only say that because it hasn’t really worked much this summer, and it got beat in Fairfield’s lone loss– a 7-5 defeat against Annex in sectionals.
Fairfield’s opening game is Friday against Central Coventry (R.I.) at 8:15 p.m. at Breen Field in Bristol. American will play round robin games Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday and if it advances — I can’t imagine it won’t — it’ll have to win Thursday in the New England semis and Saturday to claim the New England crown and a trip to Williamsport.
“The competition up there is real,” American manager Bill Meury said. “When you get there, you feel like you’re playing with house money. We hope we can put together some good games and take it from there.”
But all that’s still five or six wins away. For now, American can bask in the fact that it’s the first three-time state champion in Connecticut history.
Of American’s 18 runs scored in the state finals, nine were unearned.
Avon coach Steve Harris constantly shouted positive messages, imploring his team to “stay up” when it was obvious his team’s head started to wilt.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t play the kind of baseball we played to get here,” Harris said.
Avon went 13-2 this summer, and did not lose until Fairfield beat it two straight games. This Avon group lost to Fairfield as 11-year-olds a year ago.
“This is the farthest Avon’s ever gone,” Harris said. “Having played this same group last year, we knew what to expect. Obviously, they’re a very, very good team.”
If you missed my video of the last out, here it is.
Forgive the shakiness and my inability to be closer. I’ll work on that as the summer goes on.
I’ll be updating this space with mostly American stuff the rest of the summer, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention National’s 11-year-old run.
FNLL is one win from claiming Fairfield’s fourth straight 11-year-old state championship.
That means we’ll all have to watch out for National in 12s next year.
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper. Follow him on Twitter here.