SPRINGFIELD, NJ - This time of year, seniors have a way of raising their game to another level when it counts.
Dayton senior pitcher Matthew Pavick did just that Tuesday.
Pavick pitched a complete game three-hitter and helped his own cause with a three-run triple to highlight a five-run fourth inning to propel top-seeded Dayton upended fourth-seeded Ridgefield, 5-1, in the semifinals of the NJSIAA/Wilson Sporting Goods North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 tournament on a cold, overcast day at historic Ruby Field in Springfield.
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Dayton (18-5), which has won three straight and six of its last seven games, will host seventh-seeded Glen Ridge (11-13), winners of three straight and five of its last eight games, in the sectional final on Friday, with first pitch slated for 4 p.m.
Pavick gave up an earned run, three walks, and struck out a game-high 10 batters to secure the win.
“When I hit the ball in the air, I thought I got under it a little bit, but it had a lot of tail on it so I hustled it out and looked up and saw their left fielder chasing after the ball, so we caught a little break there,” Pavick said on his triple. “When I was standing on third base, I thought to myself that I'm going to finish this game on the mound no matter what. We had a good lead then.”
Senior Joe Kastner had an RBI single with a run scored, junior Jeffrey Carrier added an RBI single, and juniors Adam Wuest, Bryce Forys, and Anthony Santucci each posted a run scored for Dayton, which faced Ridgefield for the fourth time in state tournament action in the past five years, losing all three previous games on the road.
Junior Jack Quinn posted a single for Dayton’s first hit of the game.
“We finally got the big hit and nobody better to do it than our senior who pitched a great game for us. The kids stayed strong. They could have gotten down after stranding so many runners early (five in the first three innings), but they didn’t,” said Dayton head coach Michael Abbate. “It was a great team win and we now go onto the next challenge Friday that our kids are looking forward too.”
The Bulldogs are 2-0 in previous sectional finals as they defeated Union County and conference foe Roselle Park, 12-2, in 2013 and edged Secaucus, 8-7, in 2014.
Ridgefield (14-13) saw its two-game win streak snapped and ended its season with a 3-3 record in its last six games. In two previous state games, Ridgefield had outscored its opponents, 19-2.
In the other sectional semifinal, Max Haberman pitched a complete game, three-hitter with three walks and eight strikeouts and Matt Myles added a two-run single with a run scored as Glen Ridge defeated 14th-seeded North Arlington, 8-0, in Glen Ridge.
“We feel extremely confident going into this game, however, we definitely aren't taking anyone lightly. We've been looking forward to this since workouts during the winter and we're ready to play,” Pavick said.
As is the rest of Springfield, Matt.