Ridge, Rutgers Prep to square off tonight for Somerset County Tournament title

TD Bank Park will play host to tonight’s Somerset County Tournament Championship Game. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Top-seed Ridge and 6th-seed Rutgers Prep will play Monday night at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater for the first Somerset County Tournament baseball title in three years.

The entire high school baseball season was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s event was not held due to the brevity of the season.

Ridge is looking for its seventh county title and first since 2011, while Rutgers Prep is gunning for its second; the Argonauts won their first in 2017.

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Monday night’s game can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, beginning with pregame at 6:45 pm. First pitch is set for 7:00 with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen live and for free.

Scroll through this story for links to coverage of both teams this season, the finals at-a-glance, how they got here, team record in the finals, and other notes and stats:

SOMERSET COUNTY TOURNAMENT FINALS AT-A-GLANCE:

Teams:
(1) Ridge (19-2, 13-2 Skyland Conference Delaware Division) CLICK FOR PREVIEW
(6) Rutgers Prep (18-3, 11-1 Skyland Conference Raritan Division) CLICK FOR PREVIEW

Date and Time: Monday, May 23 at 7 pm
Location: TD Bank Park, Bridgewater
Listen on: Central Jersey Sports Radio (click here)
Announcers: Mike Pavlichko, Chris Tsakonas

Starting Pitchers:
Ridge: Connor Byrne (8-1, 1.53 ERA)
Rutgers Prep: Zach Fronio (3-0, 1.08 ERA)

Head Coaches:
Ridge: Tom Blackwell, 161-134 (17th season)
Rutgers Prep: Larry Santowasso, 311-250 (26th season)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Ridge:
First and Second Round bye
Quarterfinals: def. (9) Gill St. Bernard’s 13-3
Semifinals: def. (4) Bridgewater-Raritan 3-1

Rutgers Prep:
First Round bye
Second Round: def. (11) Bernards 5-3
Quarterfinals: def. (3) Montgomery 8-3
Semifinals: def. (2) Somerville 6-3

Streaks:

Ridge has won six straight, including five regular season games, and the SCT semifinal win over Bridgewater-Raritan, which was five games ago now, thanks to two weeks in between the semis and title game. The Red Devils won 12 straight, their longest streak of the season, from April 5-30.

Rutgers Prep has won three straight since losing 3-1 to Montclair-Kimberley in the Prep B Tournament finals last Monday. Their longest winning streak of the season was ten straight, between a 3-2 loss to Voorhees on April 20, and the M.K.A. defeat.

Neither team has lost back-to-back games all year.

PREVIOUS TEAM COVERAGE:

Read and listen to more about Ridge:

Read and listen to more about Rutgers Prep:

FINALS HISTORY:

Ridge (6-8): The Red Devils have been to the finals twice since their last title in 2011, when they beat Hillsborough 4-3 in eight innings. They lost in the 2014 finals to the Raiders 4-3 in nine innings, and lost in 2019 to Immaculata, 6-5 in 12 innings, matching the longest game in SCT finals history. Technically, this is a back-to-back SCT finals appearance for the Red Devils, since there was no tournament in 2020 or 2021. It’s also three straight finals Ridge has been two that have gone extra innings.

1976: Ridge 4, Watchung Hills 3 (10)
1979: Hillsborough 2, Ridge 0
1980: Ridge 7, Franklin 1
1984: Ridge 2, Immaculata 0
1985: Ridge 5, Immaculata 0
1987: Somerville 2, Ridge 1
1988: Bridgewater-Raritan West 3, Ridge 1
1989: Ridge 5, Bridgewater-Raritan West 4
1995: Somerville 7, Ridge 6
2000: Immaculata 2, Ridge 0
2002: Immaculata 10, Ridge 0
2011: Ridge 4, Hillsborough 3 (8)
2014: Hillsborough 4, Ridge 3 (9)
2019: Immaculata 6, Ridge 5 (12)

Rutgers Prep (1-0): The Argonauts’ only trip to the finals came in 2017, when they beat top-seed and defending champion Montgomery 7-2. They were the 10-seed that year, and won a huge game over 2nd-seeded Watchung Hills in the quarterfinals. In the title game, starting pitcher Sam Beck went the distance, allowing just five hits.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY BEHIND ALL SEVEN TITLES WON BY RIDGE AND RUTGERS PREP!

Long Games, Short Game…

In the last ten Somerset County Tournaments, four of them have gone to extra innings, including the most recent final, in 2019, when Immaculata beat Ridge 6-5 in 11 innings.

Before 2019, the 2014 title game saw Hillsborough beat Ridge 4-3 in nine, the Raiders beat Bridgewater-Raritan 4-3 in 12 innings in the 2012 title game, and Ridge beat Hillsborough the year prior 4-3 in eight innings.

That also means all three finals Ridge coach Tom Blackwell has been a part of have gone to extra innings.

Since 2010, there’s only been one mercy-rule-shortened final, and that came in 2010 when Montgomery stunned Immaculata with a five-run first-inning and an eight-run fourth en route to a 13-3 victory. There have been three ten-run rule wins in the SCT finals all-time. In addition to the 2010 final, Ridge lost 10-0 to Immaculata in 2002, and Watchung Hills beat Bridgewater-Raritan West in 1982 by a 15-0 score.

Head-to-Head:

Ridge and Rutgers Prep were supposed to meet in the regular season, but Mother Nature had other plans. Last Friday’s game was cancelled as warmups were wrapping up, with heavy thunderstorms passing through.

So now weather, COVID, and scheduling issues – like being in different divisions in the Skyland Conference – have prevented these teams from meeting since 2015. In the last three meetings, the Red Devils have won the last two (7-5 in 2015, 4-3 in 2014) and the Argonauts have won once (3-2 in 2012).

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