TRUMBULL — The clock hasn’t struck midnight yet on this Cinderella.
The Max Sinoway Little League Baseball All-Star team of North Haven recently captured its first District 4 Little League crown since 1967.
And the magic continued Friday night at the 2019 Section 1 Little League Baseball Tournament at Unity Park.
Max Sinoway rallied to grind out a 7-6 triumph over Fairfield American to open this three-team, four-day bracket with a berth in the Connecticut State Tournament in Willimantic hanging in the balance.
“This group (12 player roster) has so much heart. They only took one day off since winning the District title,” Sinoway manager Angelo Romano said. “It’s great to be in the Section 1 tournament. And it’s great to beat a great team like Fairfield American.”
You can’t win a tournament by simply dropping your resume on home plate.
However, Fairfield American’s seven Connecticut Little League baseball state titles since 2010 speak volumes.
To its credit, Sinoway didn’t panic when Fairfield American batted around (four doubles, one single, two walks) in the bottom of the first inning to take a 5-1 edge.
Sinoway rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
It parlayed three inning-opening walks, two fielder’s choices and two singles into three runs to close to 5-4 in the top of the second.
With reliever John Slais (2 2/3 innings, 45 pitches, one run allowed) stabilizing the game on the mound, Sinoway kept chipping away.
The offense struck gold in the fourth. With one out and one on, pinch-hitter Alex Bowery clubbed a two-run homer to left-center for 6-6. An error, a Brandon Stevens double and a two-out wild pitch put Sinoway ahead 7-6.
“I didn’t realize I was going up to pinch-hit,” Bowery said. “But I just did what I usually do. First pitch. Home run. See ya!”
From there, Sinoway showed why it is now 7-1 during this fabulous baseball summer.
Solid defense got reliever Joe Mastrianni (1 2/3 innings, 21 pitches) to two outs and one on in the bottom of the fifth.
Sinoway manager Romano called in his Mariano Rivera (Chris Cretella) from the bullpen for the last four outs.
“I like being the closer. But it is nervewracking,” Cretella said.
“Cretella has grown up so much on the mound over the course of the season,” Sinoway manager Romano said. “That growth has allowed him to be dominant.”
Three strikeouts on wicked curveballs along with Cooper Seek’s flyball to the watrning track in center on 17 pitches added up to another save for Cretella.
The win means Sinoway will return to Unity Park at 10 a.m. Saturday to battle District 1 champ Darien. Fairfield American opposes Darien Sunday at 10 a.m.
The two best records still standing will meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. for the Section 1 title.
“The first win is great,” Romano said. “But it doesn’t guarantee anything.”
As for Fairfield American, now 7-2 in the postseason, it will take the tougher road now.
“The kids are working hard. We’ll be ready on Sunday,” Fairfield American manager Dan Seek said. “You have to remember this group didn’t win the District 2 title at age 10. And it didn’t get out of pool play at age 11. So it’s been a long road to get here. They are proud and ready to rock.”