WESTPORT, Conn. – The Westport Little League 12-year-old All-Stars have a lot of work left to do to win the District 2 championship. Their first three games, however, have been nearly perfect.
Westport defeated Fairfield American on Monday, 3-0, behind the combined one-hit pitching of Harry Azadian and Chad Knight. Through three games, Westport has not allowed a run, and the hit by Fairfield American was the only one the team has allowed.
Despite its terrific start, Westport has not even assured itself a spot in next week’s double-elimination round. The team plays Stratford on Friday at Unity Park in Trumbull at 5:30 p.m. A win would assure Westport the No. 1 seed for the double-elimination round. The team could advance with a loss, or could be eliminated depending on how many runs it gives up.
“We need to focus on getting a win on Friday and not on how many runs we give up in a loss,’’ manager Tim Rogers said.
The victory over Fairfield American was critical for Westport. The Americans have been one of the premier programs in the state over the past few years and reached the Little League World Series last summer.
Monday’s game was scoreless into the fifth before Max Popken (two RBIs) and Chad Knight delivered runs.
Azadian combined with Popken for a perfect game in Westport’s first victory over North End of Bridgeport, and Azadian threw a no-hitter in a 14-0 win over Trumbull American. Rogers is uncertain who will pitch on Friday.
“I’d love to give some other guys some work,’’ Rogers said. “We wanted to make sure Harry stayed on a pretty consistent schedule through now.”
Westport won the District 2 tournament as 10-year-olds, and was the runner-up to Fairfield National last summer. Fairfield teams have dominated the district recently, but this collection of Westport stars seems ready for the challenge.
“We’ve had a couple of players turn over every year,’’ Rogers said. “They continue to grow as a group. We added some new players this year who have made contributions. The biggest thing is they haven’t dropped off. When you’re 10 to 12, a lot of boys develop differently, baseball-wise. Physically, they’ve gotten stronger, but their baseball skills have also improved every year.”
If Westport advances on Friday, it will join three other teams in the double-elimination round next week. Fairfield National and Trumbull National, who play District 2 Blue Division, are also undefeated. Those teams meet Friday and have already advanced to next week’s action.
“If there’s one thing that separates us, it’s our pitching,’’ Rogers said. “I feel like we have two No. 1s in Harry and Chad. That performance has been great to see. The depth in the hitting has also been good. I can look at anyone in the dugout and have confidence they’ll deliver. We’re looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”
Team picture: Front Row (l to r): Ricky Offenberg, Christopher Drbal, Alex Reiner, Drew Rogers, Matt Stone, Charlie Roof
Back Row (l to r): Chad Knight, Coach Brett Reiner, Harry Azadian, Matt Brown, Manager Tim Rogers, Max Popken, Tatin Llamas, Coach Tom Whelan.
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