BRISTOL >> As the summer has gone by, Fairfield American Little League’s Jamie Flink has slowly turned into Mr. Clutch.
Tuesday late afternoon at Breen Field and with the game tied at 3 against Cumberland American of Rhode Island, Flink blasted a 2-out, 2-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to propel Fairfield American to the 5-3 victory.
With the win, Fairfield (15-2) finished 3-1 in the New England Regional pool play and clinched the No. 1 seed. Fairfield will play on Thursday at 3 p.m. in the semifinals. The remaining three seeds will be finalized Wednesday.
“I just try to do the right thing in each moment and luckily sometimes I do get it done, sometimes I don’t,” said Flink, matter-of-factly. “And usually all the time it’s my teammates that get me into that spot, we do it together and that’s just how we win each game.”
Down 3-2 in the fifth, Fairfield battled back as Ian Bentley produced a double with two outs to start the rally. Trey Hensel came in to run for Bentley and then advanced to third off a wild pitch. Jack Steed followed with an RBI single to tie the game.
Fairfield’s defense, led by Bentley, picked up three quick outs, which then set the stage for Flink’s hit.
With one out, John Reynolds’s reached first on a fielder’s choice. Flink came to the plate with two outs and a mindset of swinging at the first pitch. The five-foot-two lefty swung and watched the ball sail over the fence.
It was Flink’s third game-winning home run of the summer.
“Right when I go into the dugout I knew that with the great hitters before me, I knew one of them would get on,” Flink said. “And I knew that I probably had a chance to get up to the plate.”
Fairfield’s dramatic sixth-inning win was fueled from a solid defensive outing all afternoon.
The trio of PJ Egan (3 innings), Brian Howell (1.1) and Bentley (1.2) combined for five strikeouts and allowed just six hits from the normal high-powered Rhode Island offense. Rhode Island (2-1, pool play) came in average 17.5 runs a game in this tournament.
“(That was) the first loss in two years and we lost to a very good team,” Rhode Island head coach David Belisle said. “We had good at bats, we hit the ball hard a couple times, but they had a good defense; best defensive team we’ve played.”
Fairfield, which suffered just its second loss of the season on Sunday, looked loose and confident and played strong all around.
Jack Steed finished the game 3-for-3 with one RBI and seven players recorded a hit. Fairfield ended with 10 hits total.