Briggs pitches Ridgefield past Weston
Ridgefield baseball coach Paul Fabbri knew his team had a good chance of winning whenever junior ace Matt DeLuca was on the mound this season. It was those games in between DeLuca's starts that Fabbri was unsure about.
After Tuesday afternoon's home opener, Fabbri might be less concerned.
Masterfully mixing fastballs and breaking pitches, junior righthander Keenan Briggs kept Weston off balance in Ridgefield's 5-1 non-conference victory at Governor's Park.
Briggs allowed four hits in six innings, walking no batters and striking out nine. Matt Colucci relieved Briggs in the top of the seventh and struck out the side to end the game.
"That was the goal ... to come out and hit my spots and work in the off-speed [pitches]," said Briggs, who made only one start last year. "Just go out there and stay calm and throw strikes."
"He had great stuff," Fabbri said about Briggs. "After the second inning he was really able to locate his curveball and throw his curveball for strikes."
Ridgefield (2-0) got most of its offensive production in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff batter Johnny Briody singled and stole second and Matt Restivo followed with a walk. Nick Cullinan laced an RBI single, and cleanup hitter Joey Pastore ripped a line drive down the third-base line for a two-run double and a 3-0 lead.
Weston (0-2) scored its lone run in the top of the second. William Bunkoci led off with a single and moved to second when Myles Bochanis was hit by a pitch. Briggs struck out the next batter, but Chris Fruhbeis then singled to bring home Bunkoci and cut Ridgefield's lead to 3-1.
The Tigers answered in the bottom of the inning. Matt Lavorgna reached on an error and advanced to second on Colin LaCoille's sacrifice bunt. Briody hit a grounder to Bochanis at first and the two players collided in a race to the bag. The ball popped loose in foul territory and Lavorgna scored from second on the play.
Briggs and Weston starter Aiden Kyle then took turns matching one-two-three innings, with neither team getting another hit until Myles Lehrman singled for the Trojans with one out in the top of the sixth. Lehrman then stole second base, but Briggs retired Bunkoci on a fly ball to left field before striking out Bochanis with a curveball that caught the outside of the plate.
Weston coach Geoff Brencher was impressed with Kyle's recovery from the first two innings. "He's only a sophomore and he struggled a little bit early and then really beared down and executed his pitches," Brencher said. "He shut them down until they got the run in the sixth inning."
That run came without a hit off Kyle. Cole Blackwell was nicked by a pitch, went to third on a wild pickoff attempt, and scored on Thomas Gioffre's perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt.
Colucci then came on in relief of Briggs and threw blazing fastballs past three straight Weston batters to end the game.
Notes: Briody did not return after getting injured in the collision with the Weston first baseman.
Cole Blackwell replaced Briody in centerfield for Ridgefield and had the defensive play of the game when he ran down a long fly ball and made an over-the-shoulder catch.