Baseball: Ridgefield edges Staples to top FCIAC standings
RIDGEFIELD — Unlike his last game when he fired a no-hitter against New Milford, Matt DeLuca was presented with several pressure-packed moments against defending Class LL champion Staples on Monday.
The increased tension didn’t deter DeLuca in any way, though.
DeLuca got several key outs with runners in scoring position, allowing five hits in six innings of work in a 3-2 win for the Tigers. The win — a rematch of last year’s Class LL semifinal won by the Wreckers — vaulted Ridgefield into first in the FCIAC with four games left.
“He did what he did the other day and that’s pretty impressive, but you wonder if it’s a fluke,” said Tigers coach Paul Fabbri. “He minimized the damage and got out of big spots; I was most impressed with his composure out there. He was throwing the ball over and nothing seemed to faze him.”
DeLuca got out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, and got a strikeout with runners on second and third in the fourth.
“He really threw well and battled through everything,” said Tigers catcher Ben Cohen. “He located everything when he needed to and threw the right pitches. It all looked good.”
Trailing 3-1 entering the seventh, DeLuca exited after hitting the leadoff batter. In stepped Jake Artzt, who yielded two singles — including an RBI by Matt Stone — before recording a strikeout to end the game.
The Wreckers committed two errors and left nine runners on base.
“We just didn’t get that big two-out hit,” Staples coach Jack McFarland said. “We had traffic all day. It was just the little things; we came alive in the seventh, it was a good high school baseball game.”
Harry Azadian (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season for Staples despite a solid performance. He allowed four hits before departing with one out in the sixth.
“He had another good outing,” McFarland said. “I only took him out because we were throwing the ball around; he had a real good two-seamer and got a lot of ground balls. We have a good infield that will make the plays.”
While Staples let opportunities slip away, the Tigers manufactured runs to stay ahead. A dropped fly ball in the outfield plated a run in the second, an RBI single with two outs by Matt Restivo made it 2-1 in the fifth and a sac fly by Joe Pastore in the sixth added an insurance run.
The Tigers won their seventh straight game, many of which came against the top teams in the FCIAC.
“To face the gauntlet of these five games; the pitching has been unbelievable,” Fabbri said. “When you get pitching like that; we did the little things today.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt DeLuca, Ridgefield: Got inning-ending strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings to strand a combined three runners in scoring position.
“This was the biggest game of the year,” Cohen said. “I’ve been looking for it since the beginning of the season. You kind of hold a grudge, you got beat last year but this was a good win. We really beat them.”
RIDGEFIELD 3, STAPLES 2
STAPLES000 100 1 — 2 7 2
RIDGEFIELD010 011 x — 3 4 0
Batteries: S—Harry Azadian (W, 4-1), Alec Burns and Matt Stone; R—Matt DeLuca (W), Jake Artzt and Ben Cohen. Highlights: S—Adam Petro had two hits. Zach Zobel and Matt Stone drove in runs. R—Matt Restivo and Joe Pastore drove in runs. Records: Staples 12-4, 10-2 FCIAC; Ridgefield 13-3, 10-2.