NEW CANAAN -- Trailing Norwalk by a run heading into the final at-bats in Thursday's deciding game of the Cal Ripken 12-year-old District 1 Tournament, Daniel Curley and the rest of his teammates in the Greenwich dugout sat silent, with their fate hanging in the balance against one of the area's elite pitchers.
But for a group of all-stars, who had reached the finals the hard way--previously winning back-to-back games from the loser's bracket of the double-elimination playoff--the mood was calm.
"We weren't really nervous," Curley said. "We were determined that we were going to get our two runs to win the game."
Although it took longer than Greenwich might have wanted, those runs finally did come, and so did the championship medals afterward.
Just two batters after shortstop Colin Kelly's towering lead-off home run off Norwalk right-hander Mike Gonzalez knotted the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, first baseman Marco Pastore was walked on four pitches, putting the potential winning run on base with one out. Following a groundout--on which Pastore advanced to second with two outs--Curley stepped to the plate and hit a slow roller between first and second. Curley charged down the line and with no one covering first, the throw sailed wide, allowing Pastore to motor home with the winning run in a 3-2 victory at Saxe Field in New Cannan.
The title was Greenwich's first since 2008 and earned the team a berth in the state tournament, which begins July 9.
"The second I hit the ball, I was thinking `run.' So I just ran as fast as I could over to first base," Curley said.
"It was a crazy play," Norwalk coach Mike Giordano said. "The second baseman comes up with the ball and the first baseman never realizes he came up with it. It's 12-year-old baseball. They'll realize it next year."
Greenwich, which split its previous two games with Norwalk in the tournament, fell behind by a run in the fourth inning following a home run by first baseman Matt Galyas. But Greenwich remained close as right-hander Connor Langan entered in relief of starter Daniel Pastore in the fifth and retired six of the seven batters he faced.
"This team never said die and they worked their hardest. I'm really proud of them," Greenwich coach Matt Vlahovich said.
Greenwich's potent lineup plated a run in the first on a sacrifice fly by Marco Pastore but was held in check through the next three innings by starter Ryan Searles. The hard-throwing southpaw allowed just two hits and struck out three over four innings.
"He's going to be a hell of a pitcher coming up in the older level," Giordano said of Searles. "I wish him all the luck in the world. Good luck trying to hit his fastball."
CAL RIPKEN 12-YEAR-OLD DISTRICT 1 TOURNAMENT
GREENWICH 3, NORWALK 2
NORWALK 100 100--2 3 2
GREENWICH 100 002--3 4 2
Records: Norwalk 2-2; Greenwich 3-1.
Home runs: N--Matt Galyas. G--Colin Kelly.