Fairfield defeats Lou Gehrig in Section 1 final
Milford Lou Gehrig 12U Little League All-Stars saw its tournament run come to an end with a 5-2 loss to Fairfield American in the Section 1 Tournament championship game at Springdale Park in Stamford on Saturday.
Unbeaten in district and Section 1 play, Fairfield American now advances to the four-team, double-elimination state finals set to begin on Wednesday in East Lyme.
Gavin Kaminski drove in both Milford runs, contributing an RBI groundout following Kasen Lanese’s leadoff double in the bottom of the first inning and a run-scoring single in the third.
Trailing 4-2 in the fifth, Milford threatened as Jeanero King was hit by a pitch and Lanese reached via a bunt single. But Fairfield starting pitcher Pierce Cowles started an inning-ending, rally-thwarting 1-6-3 double play.
“They made a couple of great plays to stop rallies and that’s baseball,” Milford manager Rob Hansen said. “I’m so proud of our effort.”
Fairfield American scored twice in each of the first two innings, capitalizing on four walks and a hit in the opening frame and a two-run home run by Pierce in the second. Fairfield tacked on a run thanks to a walk and two-out hit in the sixth.
Zach Worzel checked his swing to keep his sixth inning-opening at bat going before eventually working a walk. Cowles got two outs, then was removed due to the 85 pitch count regulation. Charlie Yates got the final out.
Milford had been defeated 10-0 by this Fairfield team earlier in the tourney, and also lost a pair of scrimmages to Fairfield.
The Milford squad got plenty of praise from Fairfield manager Jeff Gouley, who anticipated that nothing would come easily in the pinnacle game.
“I knew that was going to happen. I knew their pitching was excellent. I knew they would be ready for us today,” Gouley said. “They’re a great team. They hit, they field, they pitch well. They’ve got pitchers who pitch to spots. It’s been a pleasure to play them.”
For Hansen, it has been a pleasure to coach the Milford lineup.
“We battled ’til the end. This is a tough, gritty group of kids that’s’ never going to quit,” Hansen said. “From a coaching perspective wins and losses sure, they’re important. But seeing these kids out there smiling and having fun, that’s more important to me.
“These kids gave us everything they possibly had every step of the way.”
Milford’s Nolan McKenna-Hansen, who was behind the plate, said that camaraderie helped carry this team a long way. “It was good,” McKenna-Hansen said of Milford’s summer run. “The key (to winning) was being together through everything.
Hansen wants his players, who will go in different directions after several years together, to remember this team fondly.
“As I told them, what I want them to remember is this team, the camaraderie, the friendship and the fun they have had. I hope they remember this and take it with them,” Hansen said.
Hansen is assisted by coaches Mark Kaminski and Kevin Long. Players are Kasen Lanese, Gavin Kaminski, Zach Worzel, Brendan Buchner, Ethan Long, Nolan McKenna-Hansen, Declan Wywoda, Chase Bryant, Brian Goglia, Jake Stash, Hunter Hoxie, Tyler Nethercott and Jeanero King.