Little League: Milford 11s lose to Fairfield in final

“We couldn’t get our runners home with a timely hit and they did,” Milford coach Bill Garfield said after Fairfield Little League posted an 8-2 decision in the 11U state championship game in Trumbull on Thursday night.  “I want our players to never forget that they came such a long way in such a short period of time together.

“Most of the players on this team also won Districts last year. Now, they got to the state finals. The best part for the coaches are that they are all great kids. Milford Softball 12’s made it to the District finals, and the 10s won states. From the lower ages to the top, Milford Softball is in good shape.”

Milford, the District 4 champions, defeated all opponents at states accept Fairfield.

“There isn’t anyone on this team that can’t get the job done,” Fairfield manager Jeff Russo said. “This is hard working team that learned to win last summer after getting to Regionals as 10s and losing only two games in Pennsylvania, both to the eventual champion.

“This year we didn’t loss a game in districts or states against a bunch of great opponents. This group will just keep coming at you.”

Milford found this out when despite putting multiple base runners on base in all but one inning, couldn’t add to a 2-0 lead it took in the top of the first inning.

Milford took the lead on walks by Angelina Robinson and Mya Dawid and Tegen Garfield’s RBI single.

Fairfield’s Paige O’Neill fielded Judy Tarczali hard shot to third and threw across the diamond to Alex Lewey, as Dawid scored. Grace Hess was hit by a pitch, but right-hander Alyssa Russo put the third out in the book on strikes.

Milford loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, only to come away empty.

Erin Donegan and Ashley Borecki were both hit by pitches. Emily Krauss then singled to center to put three runners aboard.

Griffin Paladino fielded Robinson’s grounder and got the force out to Ari Kedersha at the plate. When the runner at third tried to score on a wild pitch with Dawid batting, Russo was quick to cover and Kedersha’s throw was good for out number two. Dawid walked to reload the bases, but Russo enticed a comebacker to end the inning.

Milford was back at it in the fifth.

O’Neill denied Hess a base hit when she crossed in front of shortstop and snagged her ball headed toward the hole and threw to first for the out.

Tarczali walked and Teagen Mulvihall singled. Donegan walked to put three runners on base.

Russo again fielded her position and threw home for the force out. She then notched a strikeout.

Dawid was hit by a pitch and Hess walked in the sixth. Russo’s strikeout ended the game.

Fairfield played errorless defense.

Russo went the distance in the pitching circle, allowing only four hits and stranding 12. She struck out four batters, each one to end an inning with at least two runners on base.

Kelley Monahan had three of Fairfield’s hits from the top of the batting order.

Kedersha and Lauren Foley had two hits a piece.

Russo and Izzy Mullhall had the other safeties, with Mullhall’s hit the most defining of the game.

With the game tied at 2-all and Morgan McGowan on first with one out after being hit by a pitch, Fairfield had Carol Reis sacrifice the runner to second. Most sac bunts come with no outs, because with two, you’re putting a lot of pressure and belief in one batter.

Mullhall lined the first pitch she saw into right-center field for a single and a 3-2 lead.

Monahan’s base hit restarted the rally and Foley followed with a 12-pitch at bat. She fouled off pitch after pitch, before squaring up an offering and lining it into right field to make it 4-2.

Kedersha was intentionally walked, the first free pass issued byTarczali, to load the bases. Russo patiently worked out a run-scoring walk.

Monahan (single), Foley (sacrifice fly) and Russo (single) collected RBIs in the fifth.

Fairfield halved the Milford advantage in the bottom of the first. Monahan and Kedersha had singles to put runners on the corners. Monahan raced home on the back end of a double steal.

Foley singled to open the third, went to second on a wild pitch and stole third. When Russo walked and didn’t stop at first, the relay to second was on time, but not before Foley crossed the plate with the tying run.

Team members are Angelina Robinson, Mya Dawid, Tegan Garfield, Grace Hess, Judy Tarczali, Teagen Mullvihall, Nora Hayes, Ashley Borecki, Emily Krauss, Erin Donegan and Haley Stroffolino. Manager Scott Worzel is assisted by Jay Tarczali, Garfield and Kyle Krauss.