Little League: Shelton American wins District 3 championship

Shelton American is coached by John Larkins, Tom Connery and Greg Coppola. Team members are Paden Larkins, Nick Coppola, Nicolas Piscioniere, Ayden Sepkaski, Michael Spadaccino, Gael Quiroga, Andrew Flamini, Joe Gigliotti, Connor Fahey, Austin Leifer, Jacob Giard and Charlie Connery. — David G. Whitham photos

The Shelton American 12U Little League All-Stars captured the District 3 championship with a 5-1 win over Union City (Naugatuck) at P.J. Foley Field in Naugatuck on Friday.

With the win, Shelton American advances to sectional round play and will open with a game at Foley next Wednesday night against a team to be determined.

“We were able to put our loss to them (7-1 on Thursday) behind us,” said Shelton American Manager John Larkins. “I looked back at the numbers from that game and knew we had a good game in the batter’s box even though we lost. We had six fly-outs and seven ground-outs along with six hits. We didn’t strike out once.”

The one-two pitching punch of Nick Coppola and Ayden Sepkaski (34) combined to two-hit Union City.

Both teams entered the sixth inning tied at 1-1.

Michael Spadaccino led off with a sharp single to right off UC’s  Aiden Adanosky, who then a pop out to Andrew Tyszka at short. Nicolas Piscioniere worked out a seven-pitch walk to give Shelton American runners at first and second with only one out.

Ayden Sepkaski then fouled out, as Union City catcher Nate Parker made a sterling catch. He over ran the ball, but turned quickly to come back and catch it in foul territory close to the backstop.

Adanosky’s pitch count went to to 87, forcing him to leave the game, and Damon Abate came on in relief.

Gael Quiroga greeted Abate with a first-pitch single to right, which scored Spadaccino. Shelton American wasn’t done, however. Three more runs were pushed across. One scored on Joe Gigliotti’s single; another on an error and the third on Connor Fahey’s walk with the bases loaded.

Sepkaski, who replaced Nick Coppola on the mound in the fourth went out with a 5-1 lead into the bottom half of the frame. Union City managed to load the bases, before Quiroga ended the threat when he fielded Tsyzka’s grounder at short and outraced Abate to second base for the game’s final out.

Connor Fahey looks to encourage his team after hitting a fourth-inning double.

Union City grabbed the lead by scoring a run in the bottom of the third on Nate Parker’s RBI single off of Coppola, a lefty, who threw 61 pitches and left after the inning. After getting the first two outs, Coppola yielded a single to Adanosky who went to second on a passed ball and raced home on Parker’s liner to center.

On the throw home by Spadaccino in, Adanosky moved up to second. Coppola then got Jake Sanchez on a fly out to Sepkaski in right to squelch the rally.

Adanosky seemed to have things pretty much under control. He retired eight of the first nine batters he faced, using only 42 pitches along the way.

Shelton American entered the fourth having gotten only one hit, a double by Fahey in the third off of the right hander who worked the outside corner and induced six ground-ball outs and a strikeout.

He got the first two outs in the fourth before Sepkaski turned his second offering into a towering home run (his second in two games) over the scoreboard in center field.

“This was a 1-1 game going to the sixth and then we were able to tee off,” said Sepkaski, who drove in five runs in the  last two games.

The loss ended a four-game winning streak by Union City which came out of the loser’s bracket.

“We knew they were going to be tough tonight,” said Union City manager Ed Tsyzka. ‘But this is what baseball is supposed to be about, that on any given day one team can beat another. We had a great run in this tournament. I’m happy and proud of these boys for getting as far as they did.”

Coppola and Sepkaski held Union City to three hits and combined for six strikeouts (two by Coppola and four by Sepkaski).

“We have two more pitchers who nobody has seen yet at the All-Star level,” Larkins said. “We’re looking forward to coming back here next week, planting our District championship flag, and to see how far we can go. Our journey isn’t over yet.”

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