Fairfield American takes another step toward LL regional title with 3-2 win
BRISTOL -- Fairfield American, boosted by a solid pitching performance by Eddie Magi Monday night, scored a 3-2 victory at Breen Field here against New Hampshire in the Little League regional tournament.
"We didn't give him the run support we'd like to, so that was a gutty performance to hang in there," Fairfield American's Head Coach Chris Daley said of Magi.
After surrendering two runs to New Hampshire in the top of the third inning, partly due to two Fairfield American errors, Magi settled down in front of the crowd of 1,639, and did not allow any more runs. He wound up pitching a complete game.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Fairfield American surged back with two outs. With Billy McGrath on first because of an error, Tommy Ryan singled. In the next at bat, New Hampshire shortstop Brian Hagan attempted to turn a 6-4-3 double play on Chris Howell's ground ball, but overthrew second baseman Brady Russ.
On the overthrow, McGrath raced around from second base to score the tying run.
With Ryan on second because of Hagan's error and Howell at first, Fairfield American's Nick Nardone gave his team another clutch performance. He doubled into the left-center field gap, scoring Ryan and putting Fairfield American on top for good.
Lucas Hartmann "was throwing knuckleballs the entire game," Nardone said of New Hampshire's starter. "I knew it was coming for me on the knuckleball so I drove it to left-center."
Daley lauded his shortstop for his game-winning hit. "One-run game, it was huge," Daley said of Nardone's RBI double. "That was the difference."
Fairfield American's defense, despite two errors, made major plays to salvage its lead.
Third baseman Tommy Ryan ended New Hampshire's rally with two runners on in the first, fielding a sharp hit ground ball to touch third and fire to first for the double play.
In the top of the fifth, Howell made a sprinting catch in the right-center field gap to take away an extra-base hit from New Hampshire.
In the top of the sixth, with one out, New Hampshire's Spencer Young hit a rocket up the middle, but McGrath dove, snagged the ball and threw to first for the out.
Two batters later, Magi struck out New Hampshire's Liam McCafferty for the final out of the game.
Magi is 2-0 in the Eastern Regionals after Monday night's game and a relief performance against Vermont in Fairfield American's 7-4 victory Saturday.
In the bottom of the first, Howell gave Fairfield American an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, blasting a home run just below the scoreboard in the center field.
New Hampshire (1-2) capitalized on two Fairfield American errors in the third to take a 2-1 lead. Magi gave up only one hit in the inning, and struck out the last two batters, leaving two New Hampshire runners on base.
Fairfield American (2-1) will battle Massachusetts in Bristol at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be televised on NESN.
"We've seen them play a couple of times. They're going to be tough," Daley said. "We'll be ready."
New Hampshire 002 000 -- 2 4 3
CT/Fairfield American 100 20X -- 3 7 2
HR: FA- Chris Howell