FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Athletics found their groove at the right time on the baseball diamond.
Starting the postseason with a record barely above .500, the A’s reeled off four wins and captured the Butler County Tournament’s Cal Ripken Division title Sunday, June 28, with a 10-8 victory over the Fairfield Brewers at Waterworks Park.
The A’s (14-9-1) had to go three extra innings to earn the championship as Jack Mailhot’s single plated Chris Hardwick and Hunter Miller in the top of the ninth.
“That was definitely an upset — they beat us bad during the regular season,” A’s manager Ken Bates said. “We just played hard in the tournament. The kids played over their heads. They were making plays they never made the whole year. It was like somebody flipped a switch and they got confidence.
“You can’t teach confidence,” he added. “Until a kid thinks he can do it, it doesn’t matter what you do.”
Gage Smith threw the last four innings to get the win for the A’s, sponsored by Cooper Sports. James Adelsperger was the squad’s starting pitcher.
Boosting the A’s offense were Brandon Moser (three hits, two RBIs) and Miller (two hits, two RBIs).
Bates credited the Brewers, the defending Butler County champions, for their resilience. They knotted the contest with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and two runs in the bottom of the eighth.
“They wouldn’t go away,” Bates said.
The Brewers, sponsored by G&K Klein Medical Supply, were led offensively by Shane McLaughlin (three hits, three RBIs) and Brett Schnicker (two RBIs).
Other members of the championship team were Zac Theard, Matt Hawkins, Mick Brown, Brandon Bavis and Graham Holthaus. Assistant coaches were Tony Brown, Josh Miller and Steve Mailhot.
The Cal Ripken Division is for 11- and 12-year-olds.
Also decided Sunday was the Butler County Tournament’s Minor League (ages 9-10) championship. The Fairfield Bulls defeated the Fairfield Bats 7-6.