From a results perspective, the Ridgefield Junior American Legion baseball team will enter the state tournament on a tear.
But from a numbers perspective, the team enters at a disadvantage.
Ridgefield, which won nine of its final 10 regular-season games to finish second in Zone 5 with a 16-8 record, will play either East Haven or Stamford in a Southern Division second-round contest on Sunday at 1 at Ciuccoli Field.
The winner meets Naugatuck in a third-round game Monday, with the winner of that contest advancing to the final four in the Southern Division.
“We have gotten into a nice rhythm at the end of the season,” said Ridgefield manager Mike Skrapits, whose team earned a first-round bye. “We played 12 games in 10 days and that got the guys feeling pretty comfortable.”
Ridgefield’s biggest issue entering Sunday’s contest is bodies. With some players away on previously scheduled trips, Ridgefield will have only nine players, according to Skrapits.
“We’re just going to have to deal with it and play hard,” he said. “We can’t make excuses.”
Skrapits said Ridgefield’s late season run was powered by its starting pitchers — a group that includes Matt Rapp, Mike O’Brien, TK Kwalwasser and Dan Albano. Kwalwasser leads the team with a 1.56 ERA, and Rapp, who will start Sunday, has a 2.58 ERA.
“Our pitching has definitely carried us,” he said. “The starting pitching has been very good.”
At the plate, Harrison Porter is the team leader in average (.324), runs (34) and RBIs (22). Doug Goldstone (.311) and Rapp (.304) have also hit well, and Jonny Passman has a team-high 17 walks and is second in RBIs with 18.
Ridgefield has also benefited from the strong defensive play of catchers Mason Siegel and Joe Coyle.
Skrapits said one positive for his team during its late-season surge was the varied manner in which it won games.
“We won some games by large margins, and in other games we had to come back and even win in our last at-bat,” he said.
“It’s been a good regular season, and we are playing really well right now,” added Skrapits. “We just have to keep that going in states.”