Along its perfect run to the state championship, Westport Little League trailed just once, outscoring opponents 98-17 in 12 games.
It took just one inning, however, for Westport to fall behind again in its New England Regional opener.
Up stepped Harry Azadian to save the day.
Azadian tossed four perfect innings in relief and slammed a bases-clearing triple to break the game open as Westport rallied to rock South Burlington, Vt., 9-2 in New England pool play on Friday at Breen Field in Bristol.
"What can you say? He shut the door," Westport manager Tim Rogers said of Azadian, who struck out seven in a 50-pitch effort. "He came in and (Vermont) had all the momentum. ... He took control of the game."
Westport will look to continue its perfect summer when it faces Saco, Maine in pool play on Sunday at 8 p.m. Maine dropped its opener on Friday to Lincoln, R.I. 11-2.
"It was in a big spot, so I was just a little nervous," Azadian said of entering the game, "but I was confident. I knew that our bats would start, and I knew that I have a great defense behind me."
Leading 3-2 in the fourth inning, Westport plated five runs to cement its 13th straight win dating back to District 2 pool play. The all-stars benefited from three walks and recorded three hits in the inning, including a three-run triple by Azadian with two outs. Charlie Roof followed Azadian with a run-scoring three-bagger to make it 8-2.
South Burlington walked 11 batters over six innings.
"I was pretty pumped up," Azadian said, referring to his opposite-field triple. "The pitch was there, so I hit it."
After trailing for just the second time this summer -- Westport's first deficit came in its state final opener against Coginchaug, an 8-2 win -- the all-stars overcame a hard thrower, South Burlington right-hander Sammy Premsagar, to bounce back.
Premsagar held Westport hitless, but walked five in two-plus innings
"He was a very, very fast pitcher," Azadian said.
Westport plated three runs in the third inning without a hit. After loading the bases with no outs on three walks -- two by Premsagar and another by reliever Ethan Klesch -- Azadian grounded into a fielder's choice to score Westport's first run.
Max Popken slid home safely on a wild pitch to tie it 2-2.
Azadian gave Westport a 3-2 lead with two outs by racing home on a double steal.
"I think we came out a little sluggish, to be honest," Rogers said. "A little bit tired, a little tough getting sleep last night."
Westport starter Chad Knight struggled with his control in the first inning, walking the leadoff batter, Max Plunkett, before a wild pitch and passed ball put a runner on third with one out. With the infield drawn in, Chance O'Connor singled through the left side to put South Burlington up 1-0.
After a strikeout and Knight's second wild pitch of the inning, Premsagar lined a single into right-center to double the lead.
Knight threw 40 pitches in 1 1/3 innings.
email@example.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour
WESTPORT 003 510 -- 9 6 0
SOUTH BURLINGTON 200 000 -- 2 3 0