Ridgefield wins LL District 1 title, advances to states

Launching four home runs, the Ridgefield Little League All-Stars gained liftoff – into the next stratosphere of the post-season.

With a 9-7 victory over Stamford North, Ridgefield won the District 1 11/12-year-old championship Saturday night at Springdale field in Stamford. Ridgefield will now compete in the state sectionals, which include the 11 other Connecticut district winners. The state champion advances to the New England regionals, from which the winner heads to the Little League World Series in Williamsburg, Pa.

After beating Stamford North in the winners' bracket finals of the double-elimination District 1 tournament last Monday, the Ridgefield All-Stars needed just one triumph in the championship round. They got it, but not without some stress.

Two home runs from Matthew Bucciero and one apiece from Aidan Bogursky and Justin Keller led Ridgefield to a 9-3 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning. But Stamford North scored four runs to close within 9-7 before Daniel Bucciero got a strikeout to end the game.

With the score tied 3-3, Ridgefield went ahead to stay by scoring five runs in the top of the fifth inning. Matthew and Daniel Bucciero singled and scored on Keller's three-run homer. Joel Strand then singled and, two outs later, came home on Bogursky's two-run homer.

Ridgefield added another run in the top of the sixth to stretch its lead to 9-3. Matthew Bucciero singled and went to second and third on a pair of wild pitches. Daniel Bucciero then drove in his brother with a single.

Strand pitched the first five innings for Ridgefield, allowing three runs (all unearned) on four hits while walking two batters and striking out six. Will Hanna and Daniel Bucciero combined to get the final three outs in the bottom of the sixth.

Matthew Bucciero went 4-for-4 for Ridgefield with two solo homers, four runs scored and two RBIs. Daniel Bucciero added three hits and Hanna had two hits.

Notes: The district title was Ridgefield's first since 2007 and eighth overall. None of those teams went on to win the state tournament.

Along with the District 2 and District 4 champions, Ridgefield will compete in the three-team Section 1 tournament, which starts Wednesday. The winners of the four state sectionals qualify for the state tournament (July 28-Aug. 1) in Guilford.