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After 31 games, the dream ended for the Wilton U-11 Tournament team as it fell to Fairfield National 6-5 in the Route I-84 league East Division championship game on Sunday.
Wilton finished the regular season with a 14-3 record in league play and 21-10 overall.
The team went 5-1 in the last week of the season, finishing with a five-run rally in the sixth inning on the road against Shepaug to clinch the No. 2 seed for the I-84 playoffs. Fairfield National earned the top seed.
The opening round of the playoffs was sudden death, with double elimination awaiting the survivors. Wilton defeated New Milford 12-0 in the first round.
Wilton faced Brookfield in the second round and eked out a 5-4 walk-off victory as Liam Murray and Dillon Lifrieri scored in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win.
This victory came with a cost, however, as Ian Filaski suffered a fractured wrist in a collision at first and was lost for the duration of the playoffs.
Wilton then won the winner’s bracket with a convincing 6-0 whitewashing of Fairfield National on the road. Fairfield National then won the loser’s bracket, forcing a rematch with Wilton in the division finals.
Since Wilton was undefeated, Fairfield National needed two victories to win the division title.
Wilton’s fortunes turned on Saturday with a 1-0 loss at home as Fairfield National scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth.
Wilton’s best scoring chance came in the first inning when Lifrieri hit a single to shallow center and Fairfield National made a perfect throw to nail Murray trying to score from second base.
The Wilton pitching trio of Matt D’Elisa, Will Suchy and Lifrieri held Fairfield National in check, striking out seven, but the lack of run support doomed them.
There was a 25-minute delay in the game as Fairfield batted two men out of order and the umpires struggled to sort out the ramifications.
Wilton and Fairfield National then faced off in a one-game showdown at Tunxis Field in Fairfield for the division championship on Sunday morning.
Wilton promptly took a 1-0 lead in the first when Chris Birch singled, Murray hit into a fielder’s choice, D’Elisa singled and Lifrieri singled in Murray.
After starter Benny Rusin gave up a run in the second, Wilton scored four runs in the top of the third to go up, 5-1. Murray ignited a two-out rally with a single to right, followed by D’Elisa's single, Lifrieri's single, Suchy's double off the wall, and Acosta-Rua's double.
Uncharacteristically poor defense in the bottom of the third allowed Fairfield to answer with four runs off Suchy, who could have recorded seven outs in the inning.
Wilton’s best chance to score the go-ahead run came in the top of the fourth as Matty Rubsam hit a bomb to deep left that could have been over the fence or an inside-the-park homer, but the Fairfield left-fielder made a spectacular leaping catch and held on as he crashed to the ground.
Fairfield National scored the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the fifth on a single and an opposite-field double.
Down to the strike in the sixth, Sammy Johns singled up the middle to give Wilton hope, but Fairfield hung on by retiring the last batter.
The Wilton All-Stars' only losses this summer came to Fairfield National and Fairfield American. Fairfield American finished the season 22-0 and defeated Fairfield National 4-3 to capture the title.
"Thirty-one games was one too few," Wilton manager John D'Elisa said. "We would have liked to beat National and get another crack at American in the League championship game. I would have liked to see my core four win another title.”
D’Elisa, Murray, Filaski, and Griffin Klinga had won the Wilton Little League Majors championship in June and competed in the District 1 All-Towns Tournament of Champions.
AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL STANDINGSTeam Record Points *Greenwich Sr 23-4-0 46 *Norwalk Sr 20-7-0 40 Trumbull Sr 18-9-0 36 Stamford Sr 15-12-0 30 Darien/NCSr 14-13-0 28 Wilton Sr 12-15-0 24 Bridgeport Sr 11-16-0 22 Fairfield Sr 11-16-0 22 Westport Sr 8-19-0 16 Ridgefield Sr
3-24-0 6 Team Record Points *Stamford Jr 20-6-0 40 Ridgefield Jr 20-7-0 40 Trumbull Jr 19-7-0 38 Norwalk Jr 15-11-0 30 Fairfield Jr
14-13-0 28 Darien/NCJr
13-13-0 26 Wilton Jr 11-15-0 22 Westport Jr 10-16-0 20 Greenwich Jr 9-17-0 18 Bridgeport Jr 0-26-0 0