TRUMBULL >> Down by four runs headed into the bottom of the second, the Fairfield American Little League baseball team turned to their bats for a comeback.
Led by Connor O’Neill’s three-run homer, American (6-0) scored 12 runs in the bottom of the second inning and added two more in the third to defeat Monroe 14-4 in 3 1/2 innings Thursday evening at Trumbull Unity.
With the win, American advances to the District 2 title game on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Unity. American will face the winner of Westport/Monroe, who play Friday in an elimination game.
“These guys were nervous, this was a big game for them,” American head coach Mike Steed said. “Monroe is an excellent team. We knew if we could hit today, we knew we’d have a chance to beat them. These guys did a fantastic job in the second inning.”
It was a rough start for American, as Monroe got off to an ideal start loading the bases and produced back to back to singles to take a 2-0 lead.
Monroe kept the momentum going in the top of the second with a solo home run and then an RBI double to grab a dominant 4-0 advantage.
American’s Sam Davenport, who allowed just one run, came in during the second and did a nice job on the mound, as he took control and helped American get out of the inning.
“That’s tough stuff,” Steed said of the situation Davenport was in. “(But) we just told them to relax, we’ve been their before.”
American settled down at the plate in the bottom of the second as they loaded the bases with one out, and O’Neill came through with a hard-hit up the middle for his team’s first run of the game. A steal home, followed by a two-run RBI single from Brian Howell tied the game at four, which quickly shifted the momentum.
From there, American’s offense found a nice rhythm as Vince Camera and PJ Egan each singled to build the lead to 7-4. American added on two more runs and then O’Neill blasted a 3-run home run for the imposing 12-4 advantage.
“You know what, we had a bad inning,” Monroe head coach Chris Kipp said. “After the first inning we were going to win that thing. I think if we came out of that second inning 4-4 we would have been alright….because 12-year-old kids get deflated. That’s part of the learning process.”
Davenport recorded two strikeouts in the third, and then in the bottom of the inning Camera gave his team the pivotal 10-run lead with a 2-run homer.
American’s defense was able to produce the final three outs, which was highlighted by a nifty double play as the game ended in American getting the last out in a rundown.
American will now wait and see who they face on Saturday. An American win will advance the team to the Division 1 Tournament next week in Orange. A loss, and American will have another shot to win the district title on Sunday.
“We’re really excited,” Steed. “The kids are really excited, they’ve worked really hard. (But) either team that we face is going to be really hard. It’s going to be a battle.”