So what if they’re three years apart?
The Ridge Red Devils are back to a second straight Somerset County Tournament final, after the top-seed held off fourth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan 3-1 in the nightcap of a semifinal doubleheader at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
Ridge made the last SCT played – in 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortened season cancelled the event the next two years – and will get a chance to play for the title again in two weeks.
Ridge will be playing for its seventh SCT title, having last won it back in 2011. They’re 6-8 all-time in the finals.
Staked out to a 1-0 lead on an RBI single in the second by Julian Kielb, starter Connor Byrne – who’d thrown more pitches than any player on the Ridge staff this year, and by a large margin – looked in mid-season form, striking out six in the first three innings, including the first four batters he faced to start the game.
He wobbled a bit in the fourth, walking three and loading the bases, but he saved himself with a pickoff attempt before getting into a bit of trouble that he got out of.
In the sixth, though, Bridgewater-Raritan evened the score. Matthew Fattore doubled with two hours, Frankie Verano got hit by a pitch, and JR Rosado’s single scored pinch-runner Miles Misyan from second.
But in the bottom of the inning, the Red Devils pulled ahead – without the aid of a single hit.
Leadoff man Brian Leitz got plunked by Panther starter Jason Cozzi, who induced a pop up from Brendan Callanan, before he walked Mike Olivo, and was pulled from the game by coach Max Newill.
Joe Spirra came in from left field to pitch, and Matt Aber hit a ball to short, which could have been a DP, but he threw the ball over the head of the second baseman Cozzi, who moved there after coming off the mound, and Leitz scored. After Kielb grounded to third and George Busnach was hit by a pitch, Luke Somelofske hit a grounder to third that Michael Fattore fielded, but his throw pulled his brother Matthew off the bag at first, allowing the second run to score.
Shortstop Brendan Callanan started the seventh to close it out, and pitched an uneventful seventh to seal the deal.
Click below for postgame reaction down on the field from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko: