STAMFORD — It was fun and making history all in one for the Darien All-Stars.
Darien captured its first District 1 Little League baseball title in 21 years Saturday as it defeated Stamford North, 12-2 in five innings at Springdale’s Drotar Field to become the 2019 District 1 Tournament champions.
The win means that Darien advances to the Little League Baseball Section 1 Tournament that begins Friday at Unity Park in Trumbull.
The tournament (July 19-22) will be a three-team bracket involving the District 1 champ Darien, District 2 champ Fairfield American and District 4 champ.
“To bring home the District 1 title after 21 years, that’s a big deal,” said Darien rightfielder/pitcher Tom Karczewski. “Our improvement every day through hard work paid off. Since we had beaten Stamford North (last Wednesday) we had confidence coming in that we could do it again.”
Jack Nee’s RBI single and a successful double steal gave Darien a 2-0 edge after two innings.
Stamford North forged a 2-2 tie in the top of the third, but it was a few feet away from doing more damage.
Both Matt Feeny and Justin Fuchs hit opposite-field fly balls to the right field fence. Karczewski, the tallest player on the Darien squad, used his height and wingspan to turn two potential homers into two long flies that produced one run.
“I thought the second fly was out for sure off the bat,” Karczewski said. “I didn’t have to jump for either ball. They were at the top of my reach.”
Having dodged the scare, Darien took a 4-2 edge in the bottom of the third. Aidan Elders’ two-out, two-run double to right was the key hit.
“I just stayed calm at bat. I saw a pitch I liked and ripped it the opposite way,” Elders said. “It was an outside fastball. And (Stamford North reliever Chris Cupo) had been throwing to that spot all inning.”
Since Stamford North had downed Wilton, 11-0 last Friday to move from the loser’s bracket to the final, their pitching was stretched while Darien had been resting since Wednesday night.
Darien settled the issue with eight runs in the bottom of the fifth off a trio of North Stamford hurlers.
The time for 1,000 photos, a lap around Springdale’s Drotar field with the District 1 Championship banner and plans for the best-ever swimming pool team party had arrived.
“The kids were ready to go. And once again, they found a way,” Darien coach Wesley Yusko said. “We will celebrate at the pool party. We’ll think about the Sectionals on Monday. We know the history of the other leagues in the Sectional. We scrimmaged them early in the season. So we know we will have to bring our A game with us.”
For Stamford North, it reached the District 1 final but had no answer for Darien.
“It was exciting to get to the final. The kids gave me all they had,” said Stamford North coach Mike DiPreta. “We just couldn’t get enough pitching today.”