Ridgefield baseball team edges Trumbull, reaches FCIAC final

Although it has a reputation for producing quality players and teams, the Ridgefield High baseball program has won just one conference championship.

On Friday night, the Tigers will get a chance to double that total.

By beating eighth-seed Trumbull, 3-2, in the semifinals Wednesday night at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, third-seed Ridgefield advanced to the FCIAC title game for the first time since losing to Trinity Catholic in the 2000 finals.

[The game was broadcast on the HAN Network. To watch, click here.]

Ridgefield's opponent in Friday night's championship contest (7 p.m. at Harbor Yard) will be second-seed Wilton, which crushed sixth-seed Darien, 12-3, in the first semifinal Wednesday.

Trumbull took a 1-0 lead over the Tigers with a run in the top of the third inning. Ridgefield starting pitcher Alex Price walked two batters, and Danny Ruchalski followed with an RBI single.

The damage could have been more severe. After another walk loaded the bases with two outs, Trumbull's Tony Socci ripped a line shot to left field. But Ridgefield's Tony Macchia got a good break on the ball and made a diving catch to his right for the third out.

"I just told myself I am catching this ball no matter what and it kind of just happened," said Macchia. "It definitely fired everyone up."

The Eagles had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the fourth, using a walk, an error and a sacrifice to put a runner on third base with one out. But Ridgefield shortstop Matt Colin fielded a ground ball and threw home to catcher Ben Cohen, who tagged out Trumbull's Tyler Zikias.

Ridgefield then went ahead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Colin Motill led off with a single, stole second base, and went to third on Matt Stamatis's groundout. After Lucas Furneri was hit by a pitch, Pete Columbia ripped a double that scored Motill and sent pinch runner Nick Hanna to third base with one out.

On a safety squeeze, John Thrasher came through with a tasty sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Hanna scored easily, and Thrasher nearly beat the throw to first base.

Ridgefield added another run in the sixth, as Collin Lowe led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch, giving the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.

Trumbull responded with a run off Price in the top of the sixth. Ruchalski doubled to open the inning and later trotted home on Tony Socci's fly ball, which Thrasher tracked down in deep left-center.

Singles by Columbia and Thrasher flanked a wild pitch, putting pinch runner Joe Signorelli on third base with one out in the bottom of the sixth. But Trumbull pitcher Ben Fero picked off Thrasher at first base, and Colin flew out to end the inning.

Lowe relieved Price in the top of the seventh and allowed a single and a walk to the first two Trumbull batters. Catcher Sean Livingstone didn't handle the next pitch cleanly, and the ball dropped right behind him. Trumbull's lead runner tried to advance on the play, but Livingstone picked up the ball and fired to Stamatis for the tag-out at third base.

Lowe struck out next batter looking and then got a grounder to Stamatis, who threw across the diamond to first baseman Columbia for the game-ending out.

"That was an incredible game and a great team," said Ridgefield head coach Paul Fabbri. "Macchia had that great catch in left that saved us in the third. In the fourth we were able to rally and Thrasher did a great job with that squeeze play to get us the lead for good.

"Price was able to work through some early troubles and showed how good he is, and Lowe converted the save," continued Fabbri. "I'm sure the guys are fired up to face Wilton here in the final."

Notes: Price got the victory, pitching six innings and surrendering two runs on five hits while walking four and striking out five. Lowe earned a save with his one scoreless inning.

Motill and Columbia each had two hits for Ridgefield, which improved to 17-5 with the victory. Tony Macchia, Stamatis, Thrasher, and Lowe added one hit apiece.

Fero went the distance for Trumbull. He gave up three runs on eight hits with no walks and six strikeouts. The Eagles left seven runners on base.

Ridgefield's lone FCIAC championship came in 1988, when the Tigers beat Greenwich in the title game.

Press Sports Reporter Chris Sacchi contributed to this story.