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Speer nearly perfect as Westport Legion blanks Fairfield

Updated 3:12 pm, Saturday, July 14, 2012

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  • Juliane Clarke of the Westport Senior Legion baseball team gets by Fairfield catcher Sam Kivell and scores on a close play at the plate during a game against the Fairfield team held at Fairfield Warde High School, Fairfield, CT on Friday July 13th, 2012. Photo: Mark Conrad / Connecticut Post Freelance
    Juliane Clarke of the Westport Senior Legion baseball team gets by Fairfield catcher Sam Kivell and scores on a close play at the plate during a game against the Fairfield team held at Fairfield Warde High School, Fairfield, CT on Friday July 13th, 2012. Photo: Mark Conrad

 

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Westport senior American Legion manager Wayne Randazzo says he never has been involved in a perfect game in his 40 years in baseball. He came within three outs of his first on Friday.

Chris Speer retired the first 18 batters he faced before finishing with a three-hitter in Westport's 5-0 victory over Fairfield at Fairfield Warde.

"I would have liked to finish off in more grand fashion, but I got out of it, which is important, and we got our first shutout (of the season)," said Speer, a senior who has three of Westport's five wins.

Randazzo said he thought Speer was going to complete the perfect game, which would have been a highlight in a disappointing year in which Westport is just 5-17.

"That's why I didn't make any changes in the lineup," he said. "I kept the whole thing the same. That's why I didn't go to a new DH. I wanted to make sure the karma was there. We actually did think he was going to get it."

Alex Ludel was 3-for-3 for Westport with three RBI, including a two-run single in the top of the first off Lance Kreizer.

In the top of the fifth, Speer was hit above the knee on Tim Moran's comebacker to lead off the inning, but easily made the play and showed no discomfort. Through five innings, he had thrown only 52 pitches.

"I think we kind of hit ourselves out of the game," Fairfield manager John Servilla said. "A lot of pitches we swung at were way above the letters. We chased a few, but I think that's because we were trying to break up that perfect game so badly." Speer spent a long time on the bench in the top of the sixth when Westport scored three runs on five hits to knock out Kreizer, who allowed seven hits over 5 1/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.

Ludel's RBI double made it 3-0 before Westport added runs on Matt Campbell's fielder's choice and Doug Bonenfont's RBI single.

Speer needed just 10 pitches to get through the sixth, but leadoff hitter Dario Pugliaro broke up the perfect game in the seventh with a clean single to right field on a 2-1 pitch.

"I was just trying to focus on throwing strikes," Speer said. "I was getting outs the whole game by just throwing strikes. It's when you get behind in the count that it comes back to haunt you. Unfortunately, that's what happened to Dario. He got a nice hit off me. There's nothing you can do about it." Speer may have suffered a bit of a letdown after giving up the hit to Pugilano as he also surrendered singles to Tommy Lucker and Jay Sullivan to load the bases.

"You could see the energy come out of his body," Randazzo said. "You could see that he was a little ticked off."

After giving up the hit to Luckner, pinch hitter Sam Kivell battled Speer through a 10-pitch at-bat before striking out. Sullivan singled with two outs to keep Fairfield (7-18) alive, but Speer got John Carroll on a soft liner to second to close out the win.

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