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DARIEN — Opportunity knocked and the Stamford Thunder Babe Ruth Baseball 14-year-old All-Stars burst through the door.

Stamford defeated the Darien 9-2 Thursday at Holahan Field, capturing the District 1 Babe Ruth Baseball 14s championship.

Stamford now advances to the Babe Ruth Baseball 14s state tournament, beginning July 9 in Newtown.

Because Greenwich and New Canaan were unable to field Babe Ruth 14s All-Star squads, Stamford and Darien played a best-of-3 series for the District 1 title. Stamford downed Darien, 15-0 Wednesday.

“It feels good to be moving on to the state tournament. We deserve it because we worked hard all season long,” said Stamford’s Harry Gatto, who tossed a complete-game three-hitter on the mound. “We will do well in the states if we come together as a team.”

The good news for the Thunder is their pitching staff will be fresh as the 14s received complete-game performances in both District 1 playoff wins.

“We’ll have just over a week to practice for the states and we’ll play a few live games in that stretch,” Stamford coach John Calo said. “Our message to the kids is to keep working hard. We worked the counts at the plate early and our defense was solid. We need to keep our mental focus.”

Stamford sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning, building a 4-0 lead. Kyle Hammel singled and scored on Chris Price’s RBI double. Price scored on A.J. Racoszy’s RBI single. Racoszy then crossed home on Armando Gonzalez’ sacrifice fly to center.

Stamford made it 5-0 in the fourth when Chris Frattaroli (two walks) scored on Hudson Feindiezen’s double to center.

Meanwhile, Darien could do little against Gatto. Darien’s Chris Mancini singled in the third. A walk and an error set the stage for Emme Cooke’s two-run triple to deep right in the sixth, and that was all Darien could muster.

“The early 4-0 lead gave me confidence. Working with a cushion my job was to pound the strike zone,” Gatto said. “I let my defense work because a pitcher can’t win without great defense support. My fastball and sinker were good. I had trouble with my curveball because I hadn’t pitched in a while.”

Stamford settled the issue with four runs in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Antonio Bonabella had a two-out, two-run single while Gavin Dolan added a two-out RBI single in a frame that also included four walks.

“We’re playing very strong teams but we’re learning about the game of baseball and teaching lessons,” said Darien manager Rory Bernier. “We have smart, goal-oriented kids who worked hard, wanted to compete and wanted to win. The two runs we scored were a real breath of fresh air.”


DARIEN 000 002 0 — 2 3 4

STAMFORD 400 140 X — 9 6 2

Batteries: D — Nolan Lovegrove (L), Derek Chiapetta (5), Mike Spenner (5) and Matt Coughlin. S — Harry Gatto (W, CG, 4Ks, 3BB) and Armando Gonzalez, Joe Nathanson (6).

Highlights: District 1 champion Stamford advances to Babe Ruth 14s state tournament in Newtown starting July 9.