NORTH BRANFORD >> The first two batters Annex reliever Max Ferrucci faced both went yard in the District 4 Little League championship.
But Ferrucci settled down and retired the game’s final four batters as Annex edged North Haven 8-7 for the district crown Saturday at Wall Field.
After allowing back-to-back home runs, Ferrucci worked a ground out for the final out of the fifth inning, and then shut North Haven down in order in the sixth as Annex held off a furious North Haven comeback attempt. Annex led 7-0 after three innings.
“Max Ferrucci came in three or four times in the districts and the kid has guts,” Annex manager Sal Punzo said. “The kid just has guts. He throws strikes. He comes in and just goes after hitters.”
Ferrucci entered for Annex starter Nate Furino with two outs in the top of the fifth after Furino reached the pitch limit of 85. Furino allowed five hits, five runs, one walk and struck out 10.
“I felt good,” Furino said. “We hung in there. It was a great accomplishment (to win the district).”
After pitching three scoreless innings, Furino allowed five runs in the fourth. R.J. Hager had a two-run triple, Leo Konopka had an RBI double and Ryan Sullivan hit a run-scoring triple in the inning for North Haven.
“North Haven is a good hitting team,” Punzo said. “Not too many teams made contact the way they did against Furino.”
Furino hit the eventual winning home run in the fourth, a towering solo shot estimated to have traveled more than 300 feet.
Annex scored twice in the first, highlighted by Gianni DeMartino’s run-scoring infield single, and then Annex posted five runs in the third. Fernando Doria (two hits) launched a three-run home run in the inning.
Annex, which last won the district title in 2012, now advances to the Division I tournament starting on Wednesday in Orange.
Hunter Garthwait and Torin Montgomery hit the home runs in the fifth for North Haven.
“I just told them that I was just so proud of how they were down 7-0 and they didn’t die,” North Haven manager Mike Sullivan said. “They came back and they fought for their lives. In my opinion, they’re champions just the way they fought for six innings.”