Seeking to bounce back from its first loss of the season, the Ridgefield High baseball team got exactly what it needed: Ace Matt DeLuca on the hill.
DeLuca allowed only one hit in six and two-thirds sharp innings as the Tigers defeated Trumbull, 2-0, on Friday in Trumbull. Reliever Jack Bohrer got the last out after DeLuca exited because of pitch-count restrictions.
“We had a tough loss yesterday (15-8 to Trinity Catholic) and we needed this,” said Ridgefield interim head coach Mike Scarlett. “We wanted to come out here and make a point, and I think we did.”
Cole Blackwell had a key double and a walk and scored a run on an error, and Colin LaCoille delivered an RBI single as Ridgefield improved its record to 6-1.
Trumbull (4-3) got an excellent outing from starting pitcher JT Nyarady, but his five and two-thirds innings of two-run work just wasn’t quite enough.
DeLuca, who mixed fastballs and curveballs effectively to compile seven strikeouts (including all three Trumbull batters looking in the sixth inning), received plenty of praise from catcher Sean Livingstone.
“I always have confidence he’s going to pump strikes, not just his fastball, his curveball, too,” Livingstone said about DeLuca, a junior right-hander.
“I felt great the whole time," DeLuca said. “My curveball wasn’t really working consistently in the first few innings but at the end it was there.”
Down to their final out in the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles got a base runner when Ryan Teixeira reached on an error. Bohrer then replaced DeLuca and walked Brian Hance, putting the potential tying run on base.
The game's final play had some drama. Bohrer got Tim Lojko on a groundout to short, but Trumbull's coaches and players thought Ridgefield first baseman Nick Cullinan had taken his foot off the bag while stretching for the throw. Their pleas did not persuade the umpire to change his call.
“That was a frustrating ending for us,” Trumbull head coach Phil Pacelli said.
DeLuca was pleased to see Bohrer, a sophomore, come in and get the final out.
“He did very well,” DeLuca said of Bohrer. “I’m happy for him — a sophomore in a big spot like that.”
“He’s always poised and we have great confidence in him (Bohrer) coming out for the end of the game. He shut it down for us,” Scarlett said.
Ridgefield went ahead with a run in the top of the fourth. After Nyarady struck out the first two batters of the inning, Blackwell doubled, stole third, and scored on an error.
The Tigers doubled their lead in the sixth, as Bobby Arent and Blackwell walked with two outs and LaCoille delivered an RBI single.
“It was a well-played game on both sides,” Pacelli said. “They came up with the timely hit and we couldn’t. They did all of their damage with two outs and that’s the frustrating part.”