Chris Cartnick hit four home runs and drove in 10 runs for New Jersey in its Mid-Atlantic regional tournament. Ethan Righter of Connecticut struck out 18 batters in 9 1/3 innings in the New England regional.
On Thursday, in the first inning of their first game at the Little League World Series, the two faced each other at a key moment.
Righter had just given up a deep home run to Tai Mann of Jackson, N.J., with Cartnick on deck.
Unlike many little leaguers, Righter displayed no signs of frustration after giving up a homer for the first time in three games. He fought Cartnick for nine pitches before striking him out on a high fastball.
Fairfield, Conn., then built a five-run lead before hanging on for a 7-6 victory.
“I was just trying to get them to put the ball in play and get outs,” said Righter, who gave up four hits and struck out seven. “I knew my defense would back me up.”
Righter settled into a groove after setting Cartnick down. He struck out the side in the second inning and gave up only one more run in 32/3 innings before reaching the 85-pitch limit.
In other first-round games, Tamaulipas, Mexico, defeated Maracaibo, Venezuela, 4-1; White Rock, Canada, was a 12-2 winner over Emilia, Italy; and Lufkin, Texas, was a 5-1 winner against Grosse Pointe, Mich.
Hunter Ditsworth homered and pitched a two-hitter for Lufkin, striking out eight and walking none.