Columbia's single sends Ridgefield to win over Westhill

Even when the Ridgefield High baseball team struggles to score, it still manages to win.

Getting yet another quality pitching performance — this time from sophomore Matt DeLuca — the Tigers edged Westhill, 2-1, on Monday at Ciuccoli Field.

It was the 10th straight victory for Ridgefield, which improved to 16-3 and clinched the top seed for the upcoming conference playoffs. The Tigers end the regular season on Wednesday at home against Fairfield Warde and then host an FCIAC quarterfinal game on Friday (opponent, time TBD).

"That's nice ... we've never done that before," said Ridgefield head coach Paul Fabbri about finishing the regular season atop the FCIAC overall standings. "It's pretty gratifying. The kids have played great all year and this is just the icing on the cake."

Westhill took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the first inning, but DeLuca kept the Vikings scoreless the rest of the way. DeLuca finished with a one-hitter, walking five batters and striking out five.

Ridgefield got both of its runs in the bottom of the fifth. Ben Cohen's double was followed by Alex Price's two-out RBI single, which scored pinch runner Cole Blackwell with the tying run. Price went to third on Matt Stamatis's single and then scored the go-ahead run on Pete Columbia's RBI single.

"Pete Columbia's been scuffling for a little while, so for him to get that game-winner was nice," said Fabbri.

DeLuca allowed a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth before inducing a double play on a grounder to second baseman Quinn McDonald. After the next Westhill batter reached on an error, DeLuca got a grounder to Columbia at third base for the final out.

Westhill's only hit came on a single with one out in the top of the seventh. But DeLuca struck out the next two batters to end the game.

"The kids have a belief right now that when we go on the field we are going to win," said Fabbri. "Our pitching has been unbelievable, so we figure we are going to win games."

Notes: Nick Hanna and Price each had two hits for Ridgefield. McDonald, Cohen, Columbia, and Stamatis added one hit apiece.

DeLuca is now 3-0 this season with a 0.72 ERA.

Press Sports Correspondent JB Blood contributed to this story.