BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Although the latest early-spring deluge of rain put the damper on Saturday's scheduled opening day, the Ridge baseball team will be ready to defend its Raritan Division title in the Skyland Conference on Monday when the Red Devils open against North Hunterdon at home at 3:45 p.m.
Ridge was originally scheduled to visit Bernards in the regular season opener Saturday.
North Hunterdon is actually the same team that knocked Ridge out of the Group 4 state tournament last year, as the Red Devils concluded a 16-9 campaign. Ridge lost some standout pitchers to graduation in Mike Sica and Matt Bates, but some established position players remain and will be joined by a promising corps of new pitchers to the varsity.
The lineup is led by three returning starting outfielders in seniors Tim Huxen and Matt Rusiniak, and junior Ryan Gogerty. Junior Andrew Lusardi is also a talented hitter who could force his way into the lineup. Sean Spina, a second baseman as a sophomore last season, will move back to his natural position behind the plate this season.
The infield will be comprised of some combination of seniors Jack Peacock, Kevin Walker and Tyler Lee, and juniors Devin Stieglitz, a shortstop, and Patrick Heffernan, who plays first base.
On the mound, seniors Griffin Goode and Luke Harding head a staff that will also prominently include James Crowley and Justin Pavlik.
Ridge's early-season schedule:
4/3, (H) North Hunterdon, 3:45
4/5 (H) Bridgewater-Raritan, 3:45
4/6 (H) Franklin, 3:45
4/10 (A) Lakeland, 4:15
4/11 (A) West Morris-Central, 4 p.m.
4/13 (A) HIllsborough, 3:45
4.17 (H) Mendham, 3:45