Ridgefield drops final pool-play game to Darien

A seven-run fifth inning led Darien to an 8-5 victory over Ridgefield in the Little League District 1 11/12-year-old tournament Friday afternoon at McGuane Field in Darien.

The loss, which came in the final pool-play game, was benign: By winning its first two Pool A contests, Ridgefield had already qualified for the double-elimination playoff round.

Single runs in the first, third and fourth innings gave Ridgefield a 3-0 lead over Darien going into the top of the fifth. But Darien put together its seven-run rally to go ahead, 7-3. The hosts added another run in the top of the sixth before Ridgefield got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth.

Joel Strand, who threw a no-hitter in Ridgefield's 10-0 win over Stamford North last Sunday, held Darien hitless and scoreless through three innings. Strand struck out six batters and walked none.

Ridgefield took a 1-0 lead when leadoff batter Matthew Bucciero hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning. Hunter Jewell had a leadoff triple in the bottom of the second and scored on Daniel Bucciero's RBI groundout to stretch Ridgefield's lead to 2-0.

In the bottom of the third, Will Hanna singled and Brendan Busby was hit by a pitch, putting Ridgefield runners on first and second. Two outs later, Hanna stole third and then scored on a wild pitch, giving Ridgefield a 3-0 lead.

Reliever Daniel Bucciero kept Darien scoreless in the top of the fourth before running into trouble in the fifth inning. The hosts tagged Bucciero for four runs (three earned) and then added three more runs off Hanna, who replaced Bucciero with one out in the fifth.

Matthew Bucciero got the final two outs in the top of the fifth but allowed an unearned run in the top of the sixth that pushed Darien's lead to 8-3.

Down to its final three outs, Ridgefield loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth. Matthew Shepard was hit by a pitch, Aidan Bogursky singled, and Aidan Stern walked. Matthew Bucciero's single scored Shepard and pinch runner Grady Gernert to pull Ridgefield within 8-5, but Darien got a strikeout to end the game.