DARIEN, Conn. Down to their last out and trailing by four runs, the Darien American All-Stars found a way to stay alive in their bid for the Section 1 Little League 11-year-old championship Monday night.
Darien scored four runs to tie Berlin in the sixth, then won in the seventh on a solo home run by Nicholas Conte. The dramatic 7-6 victory sends Darien American to Wednesdays championship game against Fairfield National. Game time is 6 p.m. at Peter J. Foley Field in Naugatuck.
We were playing a good game, but they were playing not to lose, Darien manager Tom Conte said. They were not pulling the trigger. We asked them if they wanted to keep playing baseball or stop now. They wanted to continue.
Darien trailed 6-2 entering the sixth when the first two batters made outs. Conte singled, and it was the spark Darien needed. Jake Hyde, Jack Bogdan and Aldo Stefanoni added hits, and walks and errors by Berlin contributed to the inning.
After Darien tied it, Sean OMalley retired Berlin in the bottom of the sixth. Contes blast put Darien ahead to stay, and OMalley finished it off with a scoreless seventh. OMalley came on in the fourth in relief of Reid Gesualdi and held Berlin scoreless. It was a typical Little League game, Conte said. It was very exciting.
Darien finished pool play 3-1, and needed to beat Berlin to advance. The Americans beat Fairfield National in pool play, 7-6. The teams meet again for the sectional title, with the winner moving on to the best-of-three state championship series.
Fairfield is an exceptional team, Conte said. As long as we play our game, with good fielding and good pitching, well be OK. Hopefully our bats come through.
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