NORWALK, Conn. Norwalk's Cal Ripken 11-year-old All Stars opened the state tournament with two big wins over the weekend. They earned a day off Monday and will resume play Tuesday against archrival Newtown in a 7:30 p.m. game under the lights at Rogers Park in Danbury. The game is the winners' bracket final in the six-team, double-elimination tournament. If Norwalk wins, it will have to be beaten twice by the survivor of the losers' bracket.
Andrew Matthews pitched in both games, posting 5 2/3 scoreless innings total. He started against Oxford and left after three with a 6-0 lead and allowed only one hit. He relieved Johnny Thorme with one out and two on in the third inning of the second game, striking out five and not allowing a hit. Brendan Huertas added to Norwalk's strong pitching showing with three solid innings in the Oxford game to finish the win and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth against Danbury to close out the tough one-run win.
Norwalk's balanced 19-hit offensive attack over the two games featured different hitting heroes in each game. Against Oxford, three Norwalk hitters had two hits and two RBIs: Huertas, Thorme and Chris Druin.
Huertas singled in the game's first run with one out in the first after Matt St. Louis stole second and brought home Saint-Louis again in the fifth on groundout for a 7-4 lead. Thorme had the biggest hit of a four-run third that broke the game open, doubling in two runs with a line drive to left. Druin blasted a triple to right center to score Thorme and make it 8-4 in the sixth and picked up another RBI in the first with a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0. Saint-Louis, Thorme and Huertas also scored two runs each. Jordan O'Brien had a big RBI single in the big third ahead of Thorme's double.
In Sunday's 5-4 win, the 11s fell behind 4-2 in the second but battled back to take a tough, well-played game. They tied it in the second when Mike Claps led off with a single, stole second and scored on Saint-Louis' double. Saint-Louis advanced to third on Huertas' groundout and scored the tying run on the second of two RBI groundouts by Matthews. (Matthews plated Saint-Louis in the first after he singled and went to third on Huertas' single to make it 1-0.) Chris van der Els had two hits, scoring the second Norwalk run in the second after a one-out single and a steal of second base. Griffin Root's laser-shot double to center made it a 2-1 game, and Van der Els added a double in the fourth.
The biggest run came in the fifth: Jack Feinstein lead off with a single to right, went to second on Matthews infield single and took third when Jordan OBrien hit a warning track fly to straightaway center. Johnny Thorme scored him with a two-out line drive single to right and a 5-4 lead.
To follow the 11s in Danbury, go to www.danburyyouthbaseball.com and click the link "11 Year Old 46/60 State Tournament.
Do you think the Norwalk 11-year-olds can win it all? Leave a comment below!
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