NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Bridgewater-Raritan rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Ridge, 5-4, in the quarterfinal round of the Somerset County Tournament Sunday at Krausche Field.
Sixth-seeded Ridge (7-11) had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth on a two-out solo home run by Tim Huxen, whose opposite-field shot to left barely cleared the fence. Two batters earlier, Sean Spina of Ridge hit a long fly that also got caught up in the northwesterly wind blowing out to left and send the Bridgewater-Raritan left fielder to the fence for a long out.
Huxen also had a huge hit in the seventh inning, when Ridge rallied from a 3-2 deficit to tie the game. Huxen hit a one-out triple to the deepest reaches of right-center field on the converted football field and came home on Devin Stieglitz' single up the middle. Stieglitz also made a brilliant play from deep in the hole at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh inning just before coming in to pitch in relief of starter James Crowley, who gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings for the Red Devils.
Winning pitcher Jeff Prami went all nine innings for the Panthers, allowing 11 hits but just one walk and striking out two. Huxen and Ryan Gogerty each had three hits for the Red Devils.
Third-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan (9-8) had taken a 3-2 lead on a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
Stieglitz struck out four batters in two innings of relief, starting off the bottom of the ninth with a strikeout looking on a curve. The next batter, Greg Verano, lined a single to right field, but was forced at second on a comebacker to the mound for the second out. But the Panthers' next batter reached on an infield single to the left side, and Nick Costanzo's single to right delivered the tying run. After a wild pitch, the next two Bridgewater batters each drew walks, the second one coming on a 3-1 pitch with the bases full to end the game.
Five of Ridge's 11 defeats this season have been by a single run.