SOUTHINGTON — The Wallingford Little League 12-year-old All-Stars completed their upset of Farmington on Saturday, knocking off the previously unbeaten team for the second time in as many days at Southington’s Recreation Park to win the District 5 championship.
Less than 24 hours after beating Farmington 3-2 on Friday night, Wallingford took Saturday’s winner-take-all finale 11-8. Home runs by Owen St. Amant, John Cady and Charles Ennis helped Wallingford build an 11-4 lead. Farmington went down swinging, scoring four runs in the sixth, before Wallingford recorded the final out and raced around the field with the District 5 banner.
“I want to congratulate all the teams in our district,” said Wallingford coach Tim Hackett. “We faced so many great teams, starting the first round. It’s been a privilege for us to play all these great teams. The sportsmanship has been excellent and I’m proud of the way our district has been represented by the coaches, players and the fans.”
With Saturday’s victory, Wallingford laid claim to its third District 5 crown of the 2017 All-Star season. Hackett’s 12-year olds follow coach Brian Mitchell’s 11U baseball team and coach Jamesohn LaValley’s 10U softball team.
All three advance to state sectional play in Section 2. The softball team dropped its opener Friday night in Bristol against Granby/East Granby. The 11U baseball team opens today at 11 a.m. in Plainville against Avon. The 12-year olds catch a few days rest before facing the District 3 champ on Wednesday evening in Terryville.
For much of the District 5 tournament, it seemed likely Farmington would be the team playing in Terryville. Farmington wasn’t just winning, it was winning big, emerging from pool play to smoke Wallingford 11-1 and Southington North 13-0 to advance to the championship round.
Wallingford battled back through the losers’ bracket, out-slugging Southington West 17-15 and ousting Southington North 14-2 to earn the rematch with Farmington.
Wallingford needed to win two, and Friday’s 3-2 win set the stage for Saturday’s finale.
The game started off well for Farmington, as Thomas Keough III hit a leadoff home run. Some shaky Wallingford defense in the second inning gave Farmington another run and a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second inning, Wallingford’s bats came to life. Charles Ennis and Luke Blasi led off with back-to-back singles. A fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Ryan Arduini brought in one run. The next batter, St. Amant, hit a bullet home run over the left field wall to give Wallingford a 3-2 lead.
That home run was the turning point in terms of momentum. After St. Amant’s home run, the body language of many Farmington players became anxious while Wallingford’s grew more and more confident, even as more shaky defense gave Farmington back the lead, 4-3, in the top of the third inning.
Wallingford’s offense, however, was relentless. A towering two-run homer from Cady catapulted Wallingford back on top 5-4 in the third.
In the fourth, Johnny Carrozella, Justin Hackett and Cady led off with three straight singles and a six-run burst had been ignited. The big blow was a grand slam by Ennis.
“We encourage the kids to swing away and be aggressive,” said Hackett. “It’s kind of our approach and how we play. We don’t look to just hit the ball, we try to drive it, and they buy into that.”
Up with the bases loaded, Ennis worked a seven-pitch at-bat. He launched the seventh pitch into the trees beyond left center field. Wallingford now had a commanding 11-4 lead.
Farmington never gave up. In the top of the sixth, Ethan Gulino hit a two-run bomb to dead center field to make the score 11-6. Keough was hit by a pitch and Cole Caccamo singled to bring up Brendan Kelly, who singled them both home.
It ended up being too little too late for Farmington. Meanwhile, the party goes on for Wallingford.
“The kids just wanted to play baseball and they were enjoying what they were doing,” said Hackett. “They were having fun, there were smiles on their faces and we looked at it as an opportunity to keep having fun together.”
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