BRISTOL — Meriden’s attempt at rebounding from their Thursday night loss came up just short as Post 45 dropped their rematch with Fairfield, 4-0, in the semifinals of the Connecticut American Legion Baseball Regional Qualifying tournament at Muzzy Field in Bristol on Friday.
Fairfield, who lost 1-0 to Meriden in the first round of the tournament, managed to fight all the way back in the bracket to earn a chance at vengeance.
After being held to no runs in the first game, Fairfield decided to flip the script.
Phil Hogan picked up where CJ Monteiro left off days earlier, striking out two of the first three batters of the game.
With Ryan Killeen on the mound for Meriden, Fairfield wasted no time getting on the board.
Matt Sawyer legged out an infield single to lead off the first inning. After John McAdams advanced the runner on a fielder’s choice, Jack Corcoran laced a single to left which allowed Sawyer to cross home.
Following a single by Sam Swanson, DH Blake Benway roped a two-run double to deep center field just past a diving Evan Avery to give Fairfield an early 3-0 lead.
Killeen wouldn’t let this inning define him as he was able to settle down and throw four shutout innings.
Meriden looked to have something going in the top of the sixth when Max Giacco drew a walk and Javon Malone poked a single into center. But Fairfield was able to foil the rally and keep the shutout alive.
In the bottom of the sixth, Benway drove in Joe D’Elia on a sacrifice fly to left field to make the score 4-0 Fairfield.
While the bats remained quiet for most of the game, Meriden stayed in it until the very end.
Killeen allowed seven hits through the contest, walking two and striking out four.
After starting last night on the mound, Giacco was the only batter for Meriden to reach base twice. In addition to the walk, Giacco singled in the third.
“Max Giacco took a big step up, he had a rough outing yesterday but he took a big step with his bat,” Meriden coach Doug Wedge said. “This year he’s one of our top hitters and he’s working very hard. I’m very happy with his progress.”
Fairfield was backed by a dominant performance on the mound by Hogan, who struck out eight while walking one and yielding only four hits.
“Last night was a bit of a clunker game, no doubt about that,” Wedge said. “Tonight they played hard too, I’m proud of the way they played. Unfortunately, someone has to win and someone has to lose.”
While Meriden’s tournament run is over, they may be back on the diamond Sunday to make up season games. Meriden played the least amount of games in their zone.
“I told them not to let their heads down, they had a good tournament run,” Wedge said. ”When Meriden made it we were written off from the start, we faced good ball players and I told them I was very proud of them.”
Fairfield will play either NCL or Greenwich at Muzzy Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. If Fairfield meets NCL in the final, they would have to beat NCL twice on Saturday. The second game, if necessary, would start at 4 p.m.