Azadian lifts Westport 12s to District 2 title over Fairfield National
Working a sharp-breaking curveball off an overpowering fastball, Westport's Harry Azadian whiffed the first three batters he faced in Saturday's District 2 Little League game against Fairfield National.
His run of dominance didn't stop there.
The right-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and socked a towering two-run home run to lift Westport's 12-year-old all-stars past Fairfield National 5-2 in Trumbull and onto the Sectionals.
"Throwing as hard as these guys do from 46 feet, it's tough to hit. Then the great neutralizer is the curveball, and he had it," Fairfield National manager Lenny Klein said of Azadian, who allowed just two singles with one out in the sixth.
Leading 5-1, Azadian gave way to right-hander Chad Knight, who worked around a hit to strike out two, clinching Westport's first district title since 2003.
Westport, which is 7-0 between pool play and districts, will open sectionals on Thursday in Stamford against the winner of the District 1 and 5 game.
"It's great to get through (districts)," Westport manager Tim Rogers said. "It's a huge step. The games don't get any easier."
Azadian provided Westport an early jolt at the plate by crushing a fastball well over the left-center field fence to lead off the second. Ricky Offenberg tacked on a second run on a sacrifice fly later in the inning against Fairfield National starter Alexei Lensenmeyer.
Westport recorded eight total hits and benefitted from control issues by Fairfield National's pitching. Westport drew four walks and reached base five times via hit by pitch.
"That's a heck of a pitcher on the other side," Rogers said, referring to the right-handed Lensenmeyer. "We couldn't touch that kid last year. And they came out and hit the ball."
Ahead 2-0, Westport padded its lead with two runs in the fifth inning. Offenberg blooped a single over second base to make it 3-0, and Chris Drbal raced home for the fourth run after the throw came into the infield.
That was more than enough support for Westport's ace, who allowed just two baserunners (one walk, one error) through five innings.
"I was feeling great," Azadian said. "I felt so smooth."
Azadian struck out nine and held Fairfield National hitless until Stephen Paoline's clean single to right with one out in the sixth. Daniel Fallacare followed that with a single, and a fielding error by the left fielder allowed Fairfield National's first run to score.
"(Azadian) was huge," Rogers said. "He's been unbelievable this whole tournament. ¦ His pitching, he's been unhittable. He was a little tired at the end there, so it was time to get him out of there. But he's mixing pitches, he's hitting spots."
Klein, whose team lost to Westport 6-2 in the winner's bracket final on Wednesday, said he was "disappointed" but will use the loss as a learning experience.
"We planned to win the district this year," he said, "and we didn't. I tip my cap to Westport."
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour
WESTPORT 5, FAIRFIELD NATIONAL 2
WESTPORT 020 021 -- 5 8 1
FAIRFIELD NATIONAL 000 002 -- 2 2 1
Batteries: W -- Harry Azadian (W), Chad Knight (6) and Matt Stone. FN -- Alexei Lensenmeyer (L), Mark Vinci (5) and Daniel Fallacare.
Home runs: W -- Azadian.