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Greenwich used some power and good fortune to stun Norwalk 3-2 Thursday in the championship game of the Cal Ripken 12-year-old District One tournament at New Canaan's Saxe Middle School.
Trailing 2-1, Greenwich tied the game on Colin Kelley's home run leading off the bottom of the sixth, then scored the winning run on a throwing error to advance to the state tournament.
The team won three games out of the loser's bracket, including consecutive one-run victories over Norwalk, to claim the district crown. It forced the "if necessary" game with a 7-6 victory on Wednesday.
In both games, Connor Langan was the finishing pitcher for Greenwich. On Thursday, he allowed only one hit over two innings to earn the win after also tossing two perfect frames on Wednesday to pick up the save.
"The team showed a lot of fight," Greenwich coach Matt Vlahovich said. "This team never said die. They always worked their hardest and I'm really proud of them."
After Tim Mira flied out for the first out in the sixth, Norwalk pitched around Marco Pastore even though he represented the winning run. Pastore drove in Greenwich's first run Thursday with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first and had five RBIs, including a grand slam, in Wednesday's contest.
After Pastore moved up on Patrick Ryan's groundout, Paul Williams hit a grounder to the right side of the infield, but no one covered first and Pastore was able to score the winning run when the throw sailed past the bag.
"Marco's hit a lot of home runs, so I don't blame them (walking him)," Vlahovich said. "That was a good move on their part, but it came back to bite them. A tough error there at the end."
"It was a crazy play," Norwalk coach Mike Giordano added. "The second baseman came up with the ball and the first baseman never realized he came up with it. It's 12-year-old baseball. They'll realize it next year."
Early on, the story was the bounce-back performance of Norwalk starter Ryan Searles, who returned to the mound after failing to retire any of the five batters he faced Wednesday.
Giordano went back to Searles and the pitcher responded by allowing one run and four hits over four innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
"Even his dad even didn't want him to pitch in this game," Giordano said. "I went to him today just to boost his confidence because he is going to be a hell of a pitcher coming up on the older level. I wish him all the luck in the world and good luck trying to hit his fastball."
Norwalk grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Nico Petridis walked with one out, stole second and third and scored on a throwing error.
In the bottom half, Searles gave up a leadoff hit to Kelley and walked Mira to start the inning, but immediately settled down as the pitching dominated Thursday's game.
Greenwich starter Daniel Pastore gave up only two hits over four innings with two strikeouts. Matt Gaylas led off the top of the fourth with a homer to left, giving Norwalk a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Greenwich loaded the bases with two outs, but third baseman Mike Gonzalez made a diving stop of Patrick Ryan's smash that appeared headed to the left-field corner to save at least two runs. Gonzalez stepped on third for the force to keep the contest tied.
Gonzalez pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for Norwalk.
"He had plenty of innings left," Giordano said. "He doesn't give up home runs like that. It happens."
-- The Greenwich Cannons clinched a playoff spot in the senior American Legion state tournament with a 4-2 victory over Ridgefield on Wednesday.
David Berdoff allowed one unearned run and five hits over five innings for the Cannons, who improved 14-2.
Greenwich did not do a great deal offensively, scoring two runs in the fourth inning on a hitbatsman and walk with the bases loaded.
No games scheduled
No games scheduled
AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL STANDINGSTeam Record Points *Greenwich Sr 14-2-0 28 Norwalk Sr 11-4-0 22 Stamford Sr 8-5-0 16 Trumbull Sr 8-5-1 17 Wilton Sr 9-8-0 18 Bridgeport Sr 8-8-1 17 Darien/NC Sr 7-8-1 15 Fairfield Sr 4-11-1 9 Westport Sr 3-10-0 6 Ridgefield Sr
2-13-1 5 Team Record Points Stamford Jr 12-2-0 24 Trumbull Jr 10-4-0 20 Westport Jr 7-5-0 14 Norwalk Jr 8-6-0 16 Fairfield Jr
9-8-0 18 Ridgefield Jr
7-7-0 14 Darien/NC Jr 7-7-0 14 Wilton Jr 6-8-0 12 Greenwich Jr 5-11-0 10 Bridgeport Jr 0-13-0 0