BRISTOL, Conn. — Mike Randazzo, manager of the Fairfield American Little League baseball team, faced more than a dozen microphones and television cameras from Connecticut media outlets waiting to hear how his boys swept through the New England regional tournament and earned a trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the third time in eight years.

“These boys worked so hard,” Randazzo began, then abruptly changed course. “Actually, you know what? I’m going to start with something else. Let me tell you something about Maine, and South Portland American Little League.”

Fairfield beat South Portland 10-0 on Saturday in a championship game televised by ESPN and witnessed by a crowd of approximately 4,500 at Breen Field. It was the third victory in three tournament games for the Connecticut state champion, which beat Maine 8-0 on Monday and New Hampshire 9-4 on Wednesday.

South Portland, meanwhile, survived three win-or-go-home games in the double elimination bracket and took the field Saturday for the sixth time in seven days.

“We spent all week with these guys,” Randazzo said. “I mean, they have 33 boys in their Majors division. They made the regional finals here in New England. That is unbelievable.”

The 11 boys from Maine won hearts far beyond the state border with their scrappy play, goofy nicknames and never-say-die attitude. Coaches and players from Rhode Island, eliminated 3-2 by South Portland on Tuesday night, returned to Bristol on Friday to cheer for Maine in a semifinal with New Hampshire.

“I don’t know if it showed but we just had fun every minute,” South Portland Manager Jim Poole said. “There were some emotions, battling some different things, but man, what a blast.”

Fairfield totaled seven runs in the third and fourth innings to break the game open Saturday and tacked on three in the sixth.

South Portland hung tough in the early going, but was outhit 13-4 and managed only two balls out of the infield.

Actually, there was another. Nolan Hobbs turned on a fastball and blasted it high over the foul pole in left field for an apparent two-run homer in the first inning.

After hesitating, umpires ruled it foul, a decision that held up after indecisive video review.

“I was looking at it as I ran to first,” Hobbs said. “I thought it was fair, but … eh. It would have gained us a lot of momentum.”

Andrew Heffernan, meanwhile, kept Fairfield hitters guessing with a steady diet of breaking balls. They managed one hit in each of the first two innings but he induced five groundouts.

“I was just trying not to get rattled,” Heffernan said. “I was trying to have good body language throughout the whole game.”

Fairfield finally scored in the third with the first of two two-run doubles by Michael Iannazzo. Heffernan reached his pitch limit of 85 with two outs in the fifth.

“He had us off balance, no question about it,” Randazzo said. “I’ll tell you, that boy pitched his guts out.”

South Portland’s big chance to get back in contention came in the third, when Heffernan singled up the middle and Johnny Poole followed with a ringing double to left-center. Hobbs reached first on a wild pitch/third strike to load the bases for Richie “Big Daddy Hacks” Gilboy, trailing 3-0.

Fairfield pitcher Ethan Righter failed to throw a strike in his first three pitches. Another ball would force in a run. Gilboy looked at his manager for a take sign. There was none.

“It felt like destiny with him coming up, like maybe he’d hit one over the fence,” Jim Poole said.

“We needed to get something going. (Righter) might force one that looks fat to our Big Papi, or whatever he calls himself.”

Gilboy took a mighty cut … and grounded out to second base to end the inning.

“I thought it was a pitch I could crank out,” Gilboy said. “But obviously it wasn’t.”

Aiden Lee, who had two of South Portland’s four hits, and Gilboy finished up in relief of Heffernan. Righter departed in the fifth with nine strikeouts. Tyler Bauer of Fairfield relieved and retired five straight to seal the victory and berth in the Little League World Series.

When it was over, the only tears to spill were joyous ones from Randazzo, the Fairfield manager.

“I wasn’t expecting to do this well at all,” Hobbs said. “I was expecting to maybe win one or two, but to make it to the New England championship is insane. Now I’m looking forward to going back and sleeping in my own bed.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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