What more can you say about Ridgefield High pitching ace Matt DeLuca? Even his head coach doesn't know.
“I’m running out of superlatives when I talk about him,” said Paul Fabbri after DeLuca threw a one-hitter in Ridgefield's 3-0 home victory over Wilton on Monday. “We’re a different team when he’s out there. Our guys are on their toes. “We usually play solid defense, but still the errorless baseball we played today was a bonus.”
DeLuca (4-0) stymied the Wilton offense, allowing only an infield single (to Kyle Phillips) while striking out six and walking two. There may have been one hard-hit ball by Wilton the entire game.
For the Warriors, it was an unfortunate match between frustration at the plate and futility in the field. Five infield errors gifted two of the three Ridgefield runs.
“Here you have our guy (Drew Phillips) pitching his heart out and we gave them the game,” said an animated, clearly annoyed Wilton head coach Tim Eagen, whose team fell to 5-4 with its fourth straight loss. “Throwing and catching are not advanced skills at the varsity level.”
Phillips, who pitched his first complete game of the season, yielded three runs (two unearned) on six hits, striking out three and walking none.
Ridgefield’s very first at-bat foreshadowed Wilton fielding woes as leadoff batter John Briody reached on a bobbled infield ground ball. He stole second, but Phillips (1-2) stifled that threat by getting three consecutive outs on harmless fly balls.
The Tigers (10-3 overall) scored their only untainted run in the bottom of the second when, with one out, Bobby Arent singled to center, moved to second on a groundout, and scampered home on a two-out, RBI single looped over the infield by Cole Blackwell (3-for-3, RBI).
Phillips ran into trouble in the third. After recording two quick outs, he gave up singles to Nick Cullinan and Joe Pastore. A routine ground ball appeared to end the inning, but a poor throw enabled a run to score.
In the bottom of the sixth, Wilton infield errors put Luke Barrientos and Matt Lavorgna on base and a one-out pop fly single to center by Blackwell loaded the bases. Thomas Gioffre brought in Ridgefield’s final run with a sacrifice fly to center.
“We don’t swing the bats that well so we need to take advantage of the opportunities we have,” said Fabbri, noting his team’s two-out and two-strike hitting. “Cole Blackwell did a good job for us today.”
As for Eagen, with his team mired in a four-game losing streak and a relentless spate of games at hand, he "knows nothing is going to come easy.
“It’s a test of character as well as how we play,” he said. “We need to be better. We’re feeling pressure like a lot of these kids have never felt before. There will be plenty of chances for them to respond.”