Baseball: Hanna's clutch hit helps Ridgefield win again

A little more than a year ago, the Ridgefield High baseball team brought a sparkling 12-1 record into a non-conference game against a struggling Thomaston team and suffered a 5-4 loss.

On Wednesday, a new-look Ridgefield team with similarly high expectations rode a pair of underclassmen pitchers to a 3-1 comeback victory against Thomaston at Ciuccoli Field.

Sophomore Matthew DeLuca started for the Tigers and held Thomaston hitless and scoreless through four innings. Freshman Luke Barrientos relieved DeLuca and allowed only two hits and an unearned run over the final three innings.

The victory was the second in two days for Ridgefield, which raised its overall record to 6-1.

After breezing through the first three innings, DeLuca walked two batters and yielded a single in the top of the fourth. But with two outs and the bases loaded, DeLuca induced a groundout to second baseman Quinn McDonald to escape unscathed.

An inning later, DeLuca walked the leadoff hitter and yielded to Barrientos. A hit batter, a single, and a throwing error on catcher Ben Cohen allowed Jack Brody to score and give Thomaston a 1-0 lead. Barrientos retired the next batter on a fly ball to avoid more damage.

Ridgefield’s offensive breakthrough came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Nick Cullinan had a leadoff single, and pinch runner Cole Blackwell stole second base and went to third on Joey Pastore's single. Senior Nick Hanna came through with a two-run single to put the Tigers ahead, 2-1.

“It honestly just felt so incredible to get that hit,” said Hanna. “I’m a kid who’s bought a lot into this program and I’ve dreamt of being in that situation a million times. It’s an incredible feeling; I just can’t describe it.”

When Cameron Andry followed with a single to score Hanna, Ridgefield's lead went to 3-1.

Barrientos did the rest, getting two groundouts and a strikeout to retire Thomaston in order in the top of the seventh and end the game.

“It felt great being able to redeem ourselves after last year’s tough loss,” said Ridgefield senior third baseman Pete Columbia. “It’s certainly a game all of us remember and we strived to get this win today.”

Notes: Barrientos was credited with the victory. He walked one batter and struck out three.

DeLuca walked three batters and struck out six during his four innings.

Andry and Pastore each had two hits for Ridgefield. Pastore now has five hits in his last two games.

The Tigers were a perfect six-for-six on stolen-base attempts.