NORWALK, Conn. – On Saturday, the Norwalk Little League 12-year-old All-Stars won their first District 1 title in 28 years. On Sunday, the league’s 10-year-old All-Stars added their own district crown and showed that more titles may be on the way.
Sunday’s 9-4 win over Stamford National by Norwalk’s 10-year-old All-Stars gave the league two District 1 champions in the same year for the first time. Both teams begin Division 1 play on Wednesday as they aim for the state title.
“I attribute it to a great group of kids and great coaches,’’ said Russ Miller, coach of the 10-year-old All-Stars. “We work it out with other programs to make sure the kids are happy. We have good people involved in the daily operations. But the biggest thing is we have a good group of players.”
Miller’s 10-year-old team went undefeated during pool play but lost to Stamford National, 15-13, in its first game in the double elimination round. With its back to the wall, Norwalk won three straight, including wins over Stamford National on Saturday and Sunday.
In Saturday’s 11-10 win over Stamford National, Norwalk rallied for two runs in the final inning to steal the victory. Norwalk had a runner on first and was down to its last out before an error opened the door for a late rally. Seamus Herlihy stroked a two-run single to send Norwalk home with the walk-off win.
On Sunday, starting pitcher Javier Gonzalez handcuffed Stamford National and Norwalk took control with five runs in the second inning.
On Saturday, the Norwalk 12-year-old All-Stars defeated North Stamford, 14-5. Norwalk won seven straight games in the tournament after losing its first game to North Stamford.
“They’ve been planning on this team for a couple of years,’’ Miller said.“The kids have played a lot together. It’s paying dividends this year.”
Miller’s Signature Landscaping team won the District 1 Tournament of Champions earlier this summer. The tournament features the top teams in all of the District 1 programs. Two of his players -- Kyle Gordon and Cooper Grillo -- played for both champions. Gordon’s father, Kirk, assisted Miller on Signature Landscaping and is on the staff for 12-year-old All-Star manager Paul Boyian.
Miller grew up in Stamford, where his father, Larry, was the longtime leader of the successful Stamford American Little League program. His brother, Scott, is the assistant administrator in District 1. Now he’s part of the Norwalk leadership that is building a program that could be a District 1 force for years to come.
“We want to take this year’s success and build off of it,’’ Miller said. “Winning both the Tournament of Champions and the 9-10 title is great, and it’s great to do it with my son. All the stars aligned. You just get lucky every once in a while.”
Norwalk's 12-year-old All-Stars play on Wednesday against District 4 champion Annex in Orange. The 10-year-old All-Stars play Orange on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Scalzi Park in Stamford.
Complete schedules for the Division 1 tournaments in both age groups are available on the Connecticut State Little League website.