Ridgefield beats Hamden, heads to Class LL quarterfinals

A five-run third inning and a return to form by senior left-hander Alex Price led the Ridgefield High baseball team to its second state tournament win in as many days.

The third-seeded Tigers defeated 14th-seed Hamden, 6-1, in a Class LL second-round game Wednesday at Governor's Park. Ridgefield, which routed Hartford Public, 12-2, in Tuesday's first round, will now host sixth-seed Newtown in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Ciuccoli Field.

Making his first start since struggling in Ridgefield's unexpected 18-3 loss to Ludlowe in the conference quarterfinals, Price was back to his dominant self. He pitched all seven innings, allowing just an unearned run on four hits while walking one batter and striking out seven.

“Much relief came in seeing Alex Price on the mound,” said Ridgefield head coach Paul Fabbri. “His presence and capabilities instilled a similar confidence in his teammates..."

The Tigers did nearly all of their scoring during the five-run rally in the bottom of the third. Matt Restivo led off with a single to center field and Price followed with a bunt single. An error on Matt Stamatis's sacrifice bunt allowed pinch-runner Cole Blackwell to score the first Ridgefield run.

Pete Columbia walked to load the bases, and cleanup hitter Quinn McDonald delivered a bases-clearing triple to left field that pushed Ridgefield's lead to 4-0. Nick Hanna then singled to right field, with pinch-runner Keenan Briggs scoring on the play.

Hamden got its lone run in the top of the fifth, using a Ridgefield error (on an overthrow), two singles and a sacrifice fly to close within 5-1.

But the Tigers matched that run in the bottom of the inning, as Nick Cullinan's single scored McDonald, who had led off with a bunt single and advanced to second on Hanna's sacrifice bunt.

A single, a walk and an error helped Hamden load the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Price struck out Tyler Osborne looking to end the game.

“There’s a threat of finality to the season now, and both the experience of an upset loss (to Ludlowe in the FCIAC playoffs) and the possibility of one has really pushed the [players] to go the distance,” said Fabbri. “They know their capabilities; they just need to continue to trust in them.”