FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield American Little League has gathered a lot of state and district wins over the past few years, but Friday’s walk-off victory over Wilton might have been the most dramatic.
Michael Ghiorzi crushed the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the seventh high over the right field wall, capping an improbable 8-7 comeback victory for Fairfield American in the state tournament.
“We told them not to worry about the scoreboard and to just worry about their at-bats,” Fairfield American manager Bill Meury said. “We all thought we were probably going down. Then one hit follows another and things start to happen. They’re just a very composed group.”
American was down to its final strike in the bottom of the sixth, but Biagio Paoletta launched a three-run bomb to straightaway center field to tie the game at 7-7.
The homer capped a game-saving rally by the Aemricans, who have not lost a state tournament game in three years. Down 7-3, Fairfield scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth, with two runners reaching thanks to a pair of uncharacteristic Wilton errors.
Fairfield American did not collect its first hit of the game until the fifth inning, thanks to a stellar outing by Wilton starter Billy Black. But the first hit was a big one, as Patrick Steed went deep for a solo home run. When Dan Kiernan followed with a solo shot of his own, the Fairfield American rally was on.
Both teams combined for a whopping seven home runs, with Wilton collecting the first three. Jack Dooley and Jack Gioffre clubbed solo shots in the second inning to give Wilton a 2-0 lead.
A grand slam by Dooley in the third inning, extending Wilton’s lead to 7-0, might have put the game out of reach for some teams, but it simply woke the Fairfield American sleeping giant.
“It just feels really good to get the W,” Ghiorzi said. “I thought when Patrick [Steed] and D.K. [Dan Kiernan] hit home runs it really helped out because it got our whole team going.”
Fairfield American is now 2-0 in pool play in the state tournament. A win against District Four champion Annex on Saturday will put American in the state championship game.