WILLIMANTIC — In the end, attrition took its toll on the Southington Northern Little League’s 11U All-Star team. So did Fairfield American.
For the second time in the state final four, the Fairfield squad blew open a tight game with Southington North with a big sixth inning.
This time, it was an eight-run eruption that produced a 10-1 victory on Tuesday night.
And, this time, it settled a state championship.
Fairfield American claimed the crown with a spotless 3-0 run through the final four hosted by Willimantic Little League.
Southington North, which beat Guilford and Manchester on Sunday and Monday, respectively, had to settle for second place after falling to Fairfield in the opening game on Saturday and in the final on Tuesday.
“Playing four games in four days finally tapped out our pitching,” head coach Todd Pelletier remarked. “Even so, it was 2-1 until the 6th. Just like last game, we were them. We battled until the last inning.
”Our errors early cost us and Fairfield played tremendous defense,” Pelletier added. “Much respect to them.”
Southington North fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first Tuesday, then cut the deficit in half with a run in the third. It came on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Sawyer Johnston.
Ethan Herens, Nathan Pelletier and Christian Bonola had hits for the North. Bonola scored the run.
Starting pitcher Bryce Zielinski worked into the fifth inning. He allowed just one hit and one walk. The two runs Fairfield scored off of him in the top of the first were unearned.
Along with the players mentioned above, Southington North featured Ben Borges, Jakub Cieslik, Kyle Salerno, Ben Swift and Joey Tardif. John Salerno and Bill Zielinski were Coach Pelletier’s assistants.
Southington North 11U was one of three area Little League All-Star teams this summer to win District 5 and Section 2 titles to advance to the state final four. The other two were from Wallingford Little League: 12U softball and 10U softball. Both of those squads fell to Milford in the state championship game.
”Such an amazing, memorable team as we only lost to one team. I was honored to coach them and lead this special team,” Pelletier said of Southington North.
His final comment could apply to any team that made a deep All-Star run: “These memories will be with our boys, parents, our town and many others for a lifetime.”