BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Devin Stieglitz' sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Sean Spina from third with the tiebreaking run to give the Ridge baseball team a 4-3 victory over Hillsborough on Tuesday.
Ridge remains undefeated at 3-0.
With the score tied, 3-3, Spina led off the bottom of the seventh inning by legging out a grounder to shortstop for an infield single. After he stole second, Brandon Hylton was intentionally walked, and Anthony Roti put down a textbook sacrifice bunt to move the runners to third and second. After Andrew Lusardi was walked intentionally, Stieglitz delivered a solid, sharply hit fly ball to medium depth center field that was caught, but Spina--employing his speed for the third time in the inning--beat the throw home to give the Red Devils the victory.
For six innings, it looked like Ridge would be able to secure the victory with far less suspense involved. Senior right-hander James Crowley employed his fastball and a curve he kept in the strike zone to work his way through the Hillsborough batting order with little difficulty through six shutout innings.
Ridge scored the game's first two runs in the fourth inning on Patrick Heffernan's two-run single, an opposite-field grounder through the hole into left field with two out to score Lusardi and Greg Bozzo.
The Red Devils added what turned out to be a critical run in the sixth inning. Bozzo singled to left-center with one out and Heffernan followed with his second single of the game. After Heffernan was forced at second on pinch-hitter Justin Pavlik's grounder, putting runners at the corners with two out, Ridge forced a mistake by the opposition.
Pavlik got hung up between first and second on a pickoff play, while Bozzo danced off third base. Hillsborough diverted from Pavlik to make a play at the plate, but the Raider first baseman's throw home was wide and Bozzo scored to give Ridge a 3-0 lead.
Crowley, after six shutout innings that saw Hillsborough make mostly weak contact against his offerings, allowed a solid hit and a walk and departed the game with one out in the seventh. Crowley allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out six in his 94-pitch effort.
Ridge reliever Joe Covello came in and gave up a pop fly single that dropped just inside the right-field foul line to load the bases. A wild pitch brought home Hillsborough's first run, and when the next Raider batter hit a grounder to the right side, second baseman Stieglitz threw to Covello covering for the out as Hillsborough's second run scored. But the Hillsborough runner at second kept on running after he rounded third and he also scored on the play to tie the game, 3-3, with two out.
Covello retired the next hitter on a bouncer back to the mound to retire the side.
Ridge continues to win early this season on the strength of its pitching. Tuesday's victory came one day after Red Devils hurlers Chris Love and Cooper Bobowicz combined to blank Mendham on five hits in a 2-0 victory.