Ridgefield advances to LL district championship round

The Ridgefield Little League All-Stars are one win away from a district title.

Three home runs and four scoreless innings from starting pitcher Joel Strand led Ridgefield to a 5-1 victory over Stamford North in the winners' bracket finals of the Division 1 11/12-year-old playoffs Monday night in Stamford.

Ridgefield will now face the winner of the losers' bracket finals between Stamford North and Wilton in the championship round on Friday (July 14) at 7 p.m. at Stamford Springdale's field. The district champion advances to the state sectionals.

In Monday's game, Ridgefield got two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Grady Gernert led off with a solo homer to make it 1-0. Aidan Bogursky then walked and went to second on Myles Gythfeldt's infield single and third on a passed ball before scoring on an error.

After Stamford North had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the top of the third, Ridgefield stretched its lead to 3-0 on Justin Keller's solo homer to lead off the bottom of the inning.

Ridgefield tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning. Brendan Busby drew a leadoff walk, and pinch-runner Gythfeldt advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Matthew Bucciero's two-run homer to right field.

With a 5-0 lead, Strand departed after pitching four scoreless innings. The righthander allowed two hits while walking no batters and striking out eight.

Matthew Bucciero relieved Strand in the top of the fifth and hit Stamford North's leadoff batter. Following a walk, Stamford North scored its only run on a wild pitch. Will Hanna then took over on the mound and got a strikeout and a flyout to strand a runner at third base.

A hit batter and a walk put two Stamford North runners on base in the top of the sixth. But Hanna induced a groundball to short that Ridgefield's Daniel Bucciero fielded and threw to his brother, Matthew, at second base for a game-ending force play.