DeLuca throws no-hitter in Ridgefield's win over New Milford

Matt DeLuca skipped his last start due to a finger injury and hadn't pitched in two weeks. So when Ridgefield High baseball coach Paul Fabbri and DeLuca spoke briefly during a break between classes earlier today, the latter had subdued expectations.

"I told Matt that we had guys ready in the bullpen," said Fabbri. "I told him that if he could get us through three innings he would have done his job."

The bullpen got another day off.

DeLuca, a sophomore right-hander, pitched a no-hitter as Ridgefield blanked New Milford, 4-0, in a non-conference game at Ciuccoli Field. DeLuca walked three batters and struck out seven.

"He has some good velocity," said Fabbri, whose team improved to 10-3 overall with its second win in two days. "But the difference today was that he was able to throw his breaking ball for strikes."

"I had a good feel for my stuff right away," said DeLuca, who threw 85 pitches. "I was hitting spots well, which turned into outs."

Ridgefield took a 2-0 lead with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Quinn McDonald had a leadoff single, stole second, and went to third when Nick Hanna reached on an error. Another error on Cameron Andry's ground ball allowed McDonald to score, and Hanna came home on Ben Cohen's sacrifice fly.

DeLuca issued two of his three walks with two outs in the top of the third. But he got the next New Milford batter on a fly ball to right fielder Cole Blackwell to end the threat.

"This outing I focused on just trying to hit the catcher's glove every time and trusting my teammates to make the plays," said DeLuca.

The Tigers doubled their lead in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Price led off with a single and moved to second on Nick Cullinan's sacrifice bunt. Pete Columbia then was safe on an error, with Price going to third on the play. Following a groundout, McDonald delivered a two-out single that scored Price and Columbia and put Ridgefield ahead 4-0.

After retiring New Milford (8-4 overall) in order in the top of the sixth, DeLuca returned to the mound in the top of the seventh looking to finish his no-hitter.

"[The] last inning I was just trying not to give anything good for the hitters and trying to make them chase [pitches]," said DeLuca.

New Milford's first batter reached on an error but was out at second on a force play. DeLuca then induced a grounder that shortstop Matt Stamatis converted into a game-ending double play, setting off a Ridgefield celebration with DeLuca at the center.

"Matt went out there and threw a n0-hitter against a New Milford team that had beaten Masuk and its All-State pitcher, Nick Lorusso, the day before," said Fabbri. "That wasn't just any team he no-hit. That was a very good Class LL team."