Welcome to the wild, wild, wild world of Connecticut District 1 Little League Baseball pool play.
Darien National rallied from an early seven-run deficit then scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to defeat Stamford American, 13-12, in a Pool B play battle Tuesday night at Gene Caporizzo Field.
"If you told me we'd score 13 runs, I never thought it would be a game like this," said Darien National manager David Williams. "I'm still in a bit of shock."
Darien National did not make it a calm evening for its manager as it improved to 2-1 in Pool B play with one game left.
Darien National fell behind 6-1 after three innings and 8-2 in the top of the fifth.
However, Darien scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth for an 8-8 deadlock. Then trailing 12-8, Darien scored five times in the bottom of the sixth for the dramatic triumph.
Sweet-swinging lefty hitter Mac McLaughlin ripped an RBI single to center with two outs to plate the game-winning run.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play. I managed a hard chopper up the middle," McLaughlin recounted after receiving hundreds of high-fives from his teammates. "I wasn't looking in a particular zone for a pitch. I just swung at what I got. We came back from seven runs down earlier in the game. So we thought we could do it again in the bottom of the sixth."
It was a discouraging loss for Stamford American, which finishes pool B play at 2-2.
The top three teams in both five-team Pool A and five-team Pool B will advance after all clubs play four contests. The All-Star team in each pool with the best record will get a bye into the District 1 Tourney semifinals, slated for this post-holiday weekend.
"With a 3-1 record you know you're moving on," said Stamford American manager Len Canora. "At 2-2, we can only wait and see what happens with everybody else."
Evan Campbell's RBI single helped lift Stamford American to a 2-0 edge after one inning.
Stamford American added four runs in the top of the third for a 6-1 advantage. Chase Parrott's two-out RBI single and Andrew Canora's two-run, two-out ground-rule double over the right-center field fence highlighted the uprising.
With starting pitcher Nick Otis rolling along on his 85-pitch count, Stamford American scored twice in the top of the fifth for 8-1. Jim Murray's RBI groundout and Chris Screnock's sacrifice fly plated the runs.
However, Otis reached his pitch count six batters in the bottom of the fifth. There were also Stamford American defensive errors of commission and omission as Darien National sent 12 batters to the plate.
James Louis' two-run, two-out single stood out in the five-hit, two-walk, one-hitbatsman uprising that resulted in seven runs and an 8-8 deadlock.
To their credit, Stamford American answered back with the longball.
Ross Green ripped a solo homer to center for 9-8. Cleanup hitter Evan Campbell (three hits) blasted a three-run homer off his home field scoreboard for 12-8.
"It was a great Little League game. And great to be a part of. It was fun for the fans," Stamford American manager Canora said. "I'm so proud of our kids. The way they battled all night long. However, an 8-1 lead means nothing. In Little League baseball, anything can happen."
And Darien National provided the final bit of theatre on this evening.
"Our team has played three weeks together. They're starting to jell like a team not just a group of All-Stars," Darien National manager Williams said. "This win helps us a lot. But our job isn't finished yet."
District 1 LL Baseball Tournament
Darien National 13, Stam. American 12
STAMFORD AMERICAN 204 024 -- 12 14 6
DARIEN NATIONAL 010 075 -- 13 10 2
Pool B Play Records: Stamford American 2-2; Darien National 2-1.
Batteries: SA -- Nick Otis, Ross Green (5, WP) and Emmitt Donoghue. DN -- Henry Williams, Liam Wilson (2), Will Kirby (4), Peter Marsh (6), Ryan Carroll (6, WP) and Mac McLaughlin, Ben Olson, James Louis. Home runs: SA -- Green, Evan Campbell.
Highlights: Top 3 teams in each 5-team pool advance. Team in each pool with best record, gets bye into semifinals.