As Ridgefield was taking on Trumbull Friday afternoon, Ridgefield coach Paul Fabbri and his coaching staff were being informed they could return.
After a fire was set using gasoline as an accelerant in an attempt to dry off the infield at Governor’s Park Field April 6 prior to a game against Amity, Fabbri and two of his assistants, Tom Neville and Len Merullo, were put on administrative leave April 8 pending an investigation.
The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damages to the field.
After five days, Fabbri and his assistants were told they were cleared and able to return to the team.
Fabbri made it to Trumbull in time to talk to his team after the game Friday.
“I certainly am back,” Fabbri said. “Friday they told me ‘you’re back’ and we all could resume coaching.”
The day he was put on leave the team was voted No. 1 in the GameTimeCT poll, but the coaches leaving and pending investigation put a damper on the honor.
“It was confusing for the kids and frustrating for them. But they are kids and they are resilient and that’s the important thing,” Fabbri said. “It was incredibly frustrating. Especially with the team doing well, we just beat Amity, we were No. 1 in the state. It was really frustrating being in limbo and not knowing what was going to happen.”
The field is back open, hosting a men’s league game Sunday and a Ridgefield practice Monday.
The Tigers are scheduled to play a home game Wednesday against Ludlowe at 4 p.m.
At the end of last week, four CCC teams (Southington, South Windsor, Glastonbury and Bristol Eastern) were undefeated with eight more teams having just one loss.
That will all change as the teams enter the heart of league play beginning this week, but there is no question the CCC is as deep as any baseball conference in the state with a slew of CIAC title contenders at the top and Division-1 caliber talent all over the place.
Among those with hopes of winning the CCC is Enfield (3-1).
“We played E.O. Smith and we played Avon. Simsbury is really good. We play East Catholic and East Hartford next week and we have South Windsor in a few weeks. That CCC East is pretty good,” Enfield coach Jay Gaucher said.
“I feel like we are one of the better teams in the league, but we are not swinging the bats well right now. Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint and I like the makeup of our team.”
No. 7 Southington and No. 8 South Windsor are ranked in the latest GameTimeCT baseball poll with Glastonbury, Berlin, Bristol Eastern and East Catholic also receiving votes out of the conference.
Last season, Wethersfield won Class L out of the CCC, defeating league-rival Windsor in the final.
HONORING A LEGEND
Stratford will honor the memory of legendary coach Alvin “Bud” Russell, the longtime Stratford baseball coach and soccer coach, with a pre-game ceremony May 1 at 6 p.m. prior to the contest between Stratford and Immaculate.
The team will name the third base dugout, “The Coach Russell Home Team Dugout at Penders Field.”
After a successful career as a player at Stratford, playing for Jim Penders and graduating in 1954, Russell coached baseball for 21 seasons from 1969-1989, amassing a record of 252-160, winning two league titles, and earning 17 state tournament berths.
In addition, he started the Stratford High soccer program, coaching for 11 seasons from 1974 to 1984. He was 100-52, with 19 ties, two league titles and eight state tournament appearances. Russell died in 2018 at the age of 83.
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