BRISTOL - Connecticut jumped ahead early and never looked back on Tuesday afternoon, as Fairfield American coasted to a 7-1 victory over Maine at the Giamatti Little League Center to stay alive in the New England Regional.
Connecticut jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after two innings with RBI hits from Pierce Cowles and Timmy Domizio, as well as a wild pitch that scored Eli Balkan.
Connecticut manager Jeff Gouley thought the hot start was key, especially after falling 10-0 to Rhode Island on Sunday.
“Some kids took two sessions of batting practice,” Gouley said. “It was a perfect game against us [Sunday]. So to get that confidence with the bats was huge. I can’t imagine - if we had a couple of tough innings, it might have spiraled.”
But the biggest hit of the game came in the third inning off the bat of Dustin Walters. As a pinch hitter, Walters took the second pitch of the at-bat and sent it far into the trees in left-center field. It was a two-run homer for a 5-0 Connecticut lead.
“I went up just trying to get a hit - it was my first at-bat in Bristol,” Walters said. “It’s the best feeling in the world. It felt great.”
Another play Gouley said was crucial was Jon Morris’ RBI triple in the fifth inning after a nine-pitch at-bat.
“That triple was emblematic of our fight today,” Gouley said. “You could see we were fighting, no matter what the score was. We were eager to keep going. That edge was there from the beginning and it was there throughout.”
Will Meyers came up big on the mound for Connecticut. He needed 67 pitches to get through four innings, giving up just three hits and one walk while striking out six batters.
“Nothing was in my mind,” Meyers said. “I was just focused on hitting my spots, putting the ball where the catcher had the glove. Both [fastball and curveball] were good. It could have been a better curveball, but it got the job done.”
Meyers got plenty of help from the defense behind him. Along with playing error-free ball, the Connecticut defense made great plays throughout the game to take away hits from Maine.
“Those plays, we’ve been working on them in practice,” said Cowles, the shortstop. “We’ve been working at the on-the-run throws and the slow ones. We all did great today.”
Dimizio, Myers’ battery-mate, also received praise from Gouley after the game for his efforts behind the plate on a day where the teams were dealing with 90 degree-plus temperatures.
“To be a catcher on a day like today - he didn’t lose any focus whatsoever,” Gouley said. “He was blocking balls back there. A lot of [Myers’] curves we planned to be in the dirt. And he blocked every single one of them when they came. He caught a great game.”
Connecticut has a day off before hitting the field again on Thursday against either New Hampshire or Vermont. There are still three wins between Fairfield and the regional championship.
“Every team here is a great team,” Gouley said. “We look forward to playing and having that opportunity to keep winning and get to keep playing in August.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at email@example.com