NAUGATUCK — The Indians ran the table with a league-best 13-3 record and advanced to Naugatuck’s Peter J. Foley Little League championship under first-year head coach Chip Delaney. The Giants, on the other hand, took the long road, struggling through a 3-10 season for head coach Joe Magnamo.
But in the playoffs the Giants got a shot in the arm when key player Justin Carasone, who missed eight games to an injury, returned to the lineup. It made for an exciting championship, where the Indians held off the Giants by a 2-1 final margin.
The final saw a pitchers duel worthy of a championship game. Indians pitcher Derek Sampaio went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out 12. Nate Deptula came on in relief to strike out the final batter to close out the win for the Indians.
John McGovern surrendered four hits through five innings and struck out nine for the Giants. Shane Carey blasted a solo home run in the second inning for the Giants’ only run.
The Indians plated two runs in the first and hung on for the title. Sampaio and Deptula singled in the first inning and James Bilsky walked. A passed ball sent the second run across the plate before McGovern slammed the door on the uprising.
“It was an excellent game played by both teams that you would expect to see in a championship game,” Delaney said. “The play of the game was made by our first baseman TJ Clark in the first inning, saving what would have been a triple. I’m so proud of these kids. Every player learned and improved throughout the season and that’s why we coach. It’s very rewarding to see the kids get better and gain confidence.”
Earlier in the playoffs, the Giants defeated the A’s 3-1 with McGovern earning the win on the hill and John Braziel picking up the save. McGovern blasted a triple, a single and drove in two runs. Pete Mullin and Chris Langlais chipped in with doubles to pace the Giants attack.
The A’s, coached by Ryan Murphy, battled to stay in the game. Justin Ramos, Ray Hess, Ryan Brink, Austin Herb and Josh Campominosi all had singled for the A’s but it wasn’t enough to get by the Giants.
In the semifinals, the Giants put together a late rally to get by the Cardinals in a 6-1 final. Tristan Crelan held the Giants to just one run through five innings for the Cardinals, coached by Bob Bruno. Carey got the win on the mound for the Giants with Braziel earning the save.
Mitch Langlais led the Giants at the plate with two hits, including a two-run double in the sixth. Carey added a single and a double while Braziel added a single. The Cardinals were paced by Nick Grant and Mason Audi cracking doubles and Stephan Bergeron adding a single.
“We struggled through the regular season,” Magnamo said. “It was one of those years where we always seemed to be one hit or one play away from winning. But all the hard work paid off, surviving two elimination games and earning a shot to play for the league championship.”
The PJF All-Stars will open tournament play Saturday afternoon in Union City.