Curtin's dramatic homer sends New Canaan to districts
Be ready to do something special on every pitch.
Words spoken by Bobby Valentine at a practice earlier in the season, the New Canaan All-Stars took that advice to heart entering the Cal Ripken District I title game, winning on a walk-off home run Wednesday night to beat Norwalk, 12-11.
"I just felt the rush when I hit it," said Curtin, whose team won the district championship for the third straight year. "I was just kind of nervous with the 0-2 count, and I was trying to protect and be aggressive. So I swung at the high pitch and got a good cut."
Curtin's homer -- the 10th of the game -- sealed New Canaan's spot in the upcoming state tournament, and the chance to win a third straight title.
For Norwalk, the loser would usually be done for the summer, but coach Sal Latella received some interesting news prior to the game.
The league informed Latella that his squad received an at-large bid, placing Norwalk into the state tournament regardless of the outcome.
"I knew this morning that both teams would be going to states," Latella said. "The kids didn't know. The parents didn't know. So it's consolation for the tough loss."
After losing to Norwalk in the first game of the tournament, New Canaan struck back on Tuesday with a 6-3 victory.
New Canaan opened the game up with a seven-run second inning.
Norwalk joined the home run derby in the top of the third with a two-run shot from Zach Azadian -- his first of two on the day. With two outs, Jeremy Linton hit an RBI bloop single to cut the deficit to four runs.
New Canaan starter David Giusti stopped the rally there, throwing a scoreless fourth, then went to work with his bat, smacking a two-run single, while another run made the score 11-3.
Nicknamed the "Cardiac Kids" for its heart-wrenching close games, New Canaan appeared to be in control, which would have been a rare luxury for coach Paul Giusti.
"At least one time, I'd like to get an easy one," Paul Giusti said.
Norwalk had other plans, and the blueprint included the long ball.
Norwalk hit back-to-back homers again in the sixth. Azadian's second home run was a two-run shot, followed by one from Parlanti. One out later, Brown hit another home run -- the third of the inning and seventh for his team -- to tie the game, 11-11.
With an eight-run lead evaporated, the rest was history for the two teams likely to meet again down the road.
"These are two of the best teams in the state," Latella said. No doubt about it, offensively and defensively. When we play these guys, it's always a tough game every single time."
New Canaan will try to win the state and then regional title, which they won two years ago before falling short in the championship game last season.
"Be ready to do something special," Paul Giusti said. "That's what we said. Kane Curtin did something special. I'm very proud of these guys. They never hung their heads. They never gave up."