WESTPORT, Conn. Westport Little League set the tone for the District 2 Little League 's 9- and 10-year-old tournament in its first game. Westport defeated Fairfield American, 2-1, and rode the wave for the duration of the tournament to capture the district flag.
"We needed to play an out-of-pool game, and of course it's Fairfield American in our very first game,'' Westport manager Tim Rogers said. "I think winning that game did a lot for our confidence. Fairfield American has a strong program."
Westport defeated Fairfield American, 4-2, in Sunday's championship game. Westport advances to the Section 1 tournament, where it will meet District 4 champion Orange on Wednesday in its first pool play game. The tournament concludes July 20 with the Section 1 championship game. It is being played on fields in Shelton and Naugatuck.
Westport rolled through the district, going 7-0. It defeated Easton, 23-5, in Saturday's semifinals before facing Fairfield American in the championship. It had two shutouts in pool play and outscored opponents 48-6 in its first five games.
All 11 boys played on travel teams in the spring, nine of them on a team that Rogers coached and won some tournaments. "We knew were good,'' Rogers said. "But you never know how it's going to turn out. You don't know if you'll be able to take on the Fairfield teams."
That's why the opening victory was so critical for Westport. It showed the team can beat one of the state's traditional baseball powerhouses. The confidence proved critical in Sunday's championship, when Westport fell behind. It also trailed in the first game against Fairfield American.
"Our emphasis is on team defense and pitching,'' Rogers said. "Our pitchers all threw strikes, but they put the ball in play. We made some great fielding plays, especially in the first game. Our defense has been amazing all season long."
Chad Knight started the championship game. Fairfield took a 2-0 lead in the second before Westport answered with three in the bottom of the inning as Jack Lieder delivered an RBI single. Westport added a run in the fifth. Fairfield threatened in the sixth, but Christopher Drbal shut down the rally with the tying runs in scoring position.
Knight, Drbal and Harry Azadian carried the pitching load through the district tournament. With those three and Alec Burns, Sean Hogan and Max Popken, Rogers believes Westport has the pitching depth to make a strong challenge for the Section 1 title. It also helps to have the confidence that comes from knocking out one of the states premier teams.
"We're going to be playing four games in five days, so pitching depth is going to be tested,'' Rogers said. "We have pretty good depth. It's going to be an interesting tournament." Westport's roster includes Harry Azadian, Alec Burns, Chris Drbal, Sean Hogan, Chad Knight, Jack Lieder, Max Popken, Alex Reiner, Drew Rogers, Will Smith and Matt Stone. Rogers is assisted by Brett Reiner. Fans can follow the tournament on the Connecticut Little League website .
Do you think Westport can win the Section 1 9- and 10-year-old tournament? Start the discussion below!
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.