"Everybody hits" was a popular chant emanating from an enthusiastic New Canaan dugout, and what an appropriate motto it was.
Eight of the Pride's starting nine notched at least one base knock to kick off the Cal Ripken 11-Year-Old/70 State Tournament with a 13-2 win over New Fairfield in three-and-a-half innings.
After New Canaan starting pitcher Ryan Higgins held the Rebels scoreless in the top of the first, the Pride went right to work.
Notching seven of its 12 hits in the game, the Pride plated eight runs in the first inning to take a commanding lead.
"You've got to be hot at the right time," New Canaan coach Frank Ramppen said. "We've been talking about letting the pitch travel, and they did today. You've got to have momentum, and we hope to build off it today."
Zach Ramppen opened the game with a solid base hit to center. Henry Cannon plated the first run after getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Nick Visconsi belted a two-run single to center.
Spotted eight runs, Higgins was in the driver's seat for the rest of the game, going the distance on the mound while allowing just six hits, walking none and striking out five.
"It gives me some slack, and there's not that much pressure on me (with an early big lead)," said Higgins, who helped his own cause by going 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and two RBIs. "I think this was our breakout game. We're just going to keep on hitting."
In an 8-0 hole, New Fairfield got one run back in the top of the second, when Matt Langdon came through with a two-out single to score Marco Saccomanno. But the Rebels never came close to making up their early deficit.
"We started off a little flat," New Fairfield coach John D'Urso said. "We got down 8-0, and the kids got their heads down a little bit. A couple innings later they started hitting, but we played a real good team today."
New Canaan pushed another five runs across the plate in the bottom of the second to make the score 13-1, as Wheeler delivered a two-run single to notch a game-high three RBIs.
New Fairfield's John D'Urso picked up his team's second RBI in the top of the third, blasting a double to right-center to score Matt Garbowski.
"It's too bad we didn't hit like that earlier, but we showed some positive stuff," D'Urso said. "We know that we have a good, competitive team."
New Fairfield pitcher Chris Radovic, the Rebels' third in as many innings, threw a scoreless third inning, but the mercy rule was in effect after New Fairfield was held scoreless in the top of the fourth.
New Canaan (1-0) is back in action Monday at 6 p.m. against Danbury (0-0). New Fairfield (0-1) faces Norwalk (0-1) Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
"That's kind of what we expect out of Ryan," Ramppen said. "He's a heck of a pitcher and he was on his game today. He stayed on top of everybody and had good stuff, and we played a little defense behind him today."
NEW CANAAN 13, NEW FAIRFIELD 2
NEW FAIRFIELD 011 0 -- 2 6 3
NEW CANAAN 850 x -- 13 12 2
Records: New Fairfield 0-1; New Canaan 1-0.
Batteries: NF--Matt Langdon (L, 0-1), Ratik Patel (2), Chris Radovic (3) and Matt Garbowski; NC-Ryan Higgins (W, 1-0) and Zach Ramppen.
Highlights: NF--John D'Urso was 1-for-2 with an RBI double. Matt Langdon was 1-for-2 with a stolen base. Alex Jansen was 2-for-2; NC-Clete Wheeler 2-for-2 with three RBIs, two runs score and a stolen base. Higgins was 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and a run scored. Will Cosco was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and a stolen base.