Defending champ Ridge walks off Bridgewater-Rartitan in another playoff thriller to advance to North 2, Group 4 semifinals

Connor Byrne (pitching) struck out seven in Ridge’s 2-1 walkoff win over Bridgewater-Raritan in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 quarterfinals on June 4, 2022 in Basking Ridge. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

After playing five-and-a-half scoreless innings, with both pitchers throwing well – and getting out of minor jams when they had to – second-seed Ridge finally broke thorough against seventh-seed Bridgewater-Raritan in their North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon.

The Red Devils got a leadoff walk from Matt Shawah, and after a sac bunt moved him to second, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch, Mike Olivo put his team up 1-0 with an RBI single. And they could have had more, had Olivo not been caught trying to steal third after a pitch in the dirt that he may have thought Bridgewater catcher Matt Salinger had lost in front of him.

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But the Panthers came back. Connor Byrne – looking to go the distance for Ridge – struck out JR Rosado and Frankie Verano. But he reached his one-game pitch count after a double by Matt Moore, and came out of the game. Brendan Callanan came in from shortstop and gave up an RBI single to BR pinch-hitter Tim Travisano, and we were back tied again, now at 1-1.

Now, it was Ridge’s turn not to be denied. Starter Jason Cozzi entered the seventh allowing just two hits all afternoon to the Red Devils. But after a fly-out to center by Matt Aber and a pop up to second by Julian Kielb, catcher George Busnach walked. Luke Somelofske singled. And Andrew Shawah walked. Yes, the bottom three in the order – a lineup with no one hitting less than .280 all year – had set it up for leadoff man Matt Shahwah.

He hit a line drive roller between third and short that Matt Moore couldn’t handle off his glove, but deep in the hole, he probably wouldn’t have had a play anywhere for the third out. It was ruled a hit – a two-out RBI infield hit – driving in courtesy runner Brian Capato from third, and Ridge walked-off with a 2-1 win over the Panthers, to move on to the North 2 Group 4 semifinals on Tuesday afternoon, likely at 4 pm, here in Basking Ridge.

Byrne struck out seven, including the first two outs in the seventh. Callanan got the win in relief, his third against the Panthers this season.

The Red Devils will play third-seed Woodbridge in the semis, as the Barrons beat 6th-seed Westfield 8-4 at home Saturday afternoon.

Click below for postgame reaction from Ridge’s quarterfinal win over Bridgewater-Raritan:

Matt Shawah, with the game-winning RBI infield hit
Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell

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