NORWALK, Conn. It took a few extra days, but Norwalk Legion Post 12 locked up a spot in the Connecticut state tournament. Second-place Norwalk lost three in a row while on the cusp of a playoff spot. But the team got over the hump with a 10-1 drubbing of Westport on Saturday.
"This week was tough trying to get that 15th win. I'm proud of how the guys played today," Norwalk head coach Chris Brown said. "We didn't really talk about qualifying. We just talked about coming out and playing. I just told the guys to come out and show me what they've got."
Mike Parlanti, who is normally the team's shortstop, was brilliant in a spot start for Norwalk, pitching six innings of one-run ball. Westport had plenty of opportunities with four hits and four walks, but Parlanti stranded five runners in scoring position while striking out four.
The offensive prowess that has shown up in spurts for Norwalk this season was on full display Saturday. Post 12 pounded out 13 hits, capped off by a monster three-run home run by catcher Kevin Daniele that soared high over the 345-foot sign in left-center field. That sparked a five-run sixth for Norwalk to put the game out of reach.
Until the sixth, the offense grinded out five runs and held on to that lead for dear life. Norwalk had missed a golden opportunity in the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs but managed just one run. Parlanti kept Westport at bay long enough for Norwalk's bats to wake up.
"We came out strong today and got a few in the first and worked from there," Parlanti said. "We just can't lose anymore. We're going to try to streak into the state tournament."
Daniele led the offense as Norwalk's cleanup man, going three-for-five with four RBIs. Leon Fleming had a solid two-for-three day from the six-hole with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.
With nine games remaining in the regular season, Norwalk (15-7) is the second team from Zone Four to qualify for the state tournament along with Greenwich. They next host last-place Ridgefield on Monday.
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