— Tim Murphy (@TimMurph27) April 18, 2019
RIDGEFIELD — In Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Greenwich, the Ridgefield baseball team had two players come through in the clutch — one far more likelier than the other.
Senior rightfielder Joey Pastore, the Tigers’ cleanup hitter, provided the walk-off hit, lining a two-out single to left that scored Nick Cullinan with the winning run.
More unexpected was the performance from another senior, seldom-used relief pitcher Jack Costello. Costello entered the game with no outs and two Greenwich runners on base in the top of the seventh. After allowing a bunt single that loaded the bases, Costello retired the next three batters — all on plays at home — to keep the game tied.
“I’m thrilled for a guy like that, a real program guy,” Ridgefield coach Paul Fabbri said about Costello, who was making just his second varsity appearance. “He was on JV last year and kept working and got better. That was a huge spot for him today and he didn’t get rattled.”
Ridgefield’s comeback — the Tigers (8-2) scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game — overshadowed an impressive effort from Greenwich right-hander Ian Colalucci. Colalucci kept Ridgefield hitless through five innings, stranding three runners in the third and two more in the fifth.
“He got ahead of hitters today,” Greenwich coach Mike Mora said about Colalucci. “That allowed him to throw his breaking stuff for outs.”
Ridgefield starter Keenan Briggs held the Cardinals (2-7) scoreless in the first five innings, but the visitors broke through with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth.
Sean Pratley and Henry Jonokuchi reached on infield singles and advanced on Jackson Blanchard’s sacrifice bunt. Matt Colucci relieved Briggs and walked Hunter Gruenstrass before throwing a wild pitch that allowed Pratley to score. Chris Genaro then plated Jonokuchi on an RBI groundout, giving Greenwich a 2-0 lead.
Cole Blackwell led off the bottom of the sixth with a single for Ridgefield’s first hit. Blackwell stole second and went to third on Johnny Briody’s single before scoring on a wild pitch. Briody was later tagged out in a rundown while trying to score from third on a suicide squeeze, but the Tigers tied the game when Colin LaCoille scored on another wild pitch.
Greenwich looked ready to retake the lead in the top of the seventh. Cristian Perez singled and Owen Bass was hit by a pitch, and Fabbri removed Colucci in favor of Costello. Pratley’s bunt single loaded the bases with no outs, but Costello fielded a comebacker and threw home for a force play and then induced a grounder to short that LaCoille fielded and fired home for another force out.
In the oddest moment of a strange game, Costello threw a pitch that bounced off catcher Sean Livingstone’s chest protector and dribbled in front of home plate. Livingstone alertly retrieved the ball and tagged Pratley, who was trying to score from third on the play.
Thomas Gioffre began the bottom of the seventh with a single off Greenwich lefty Mitchell Grimes, who had replaced Colalucci with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Nick Cullinan drew a one-out walk, and Gioffre went to third on a throwing error. Blackwell then hit a grounder to Pratley, who threw home for a force out on Gioffre.
But the Cardinals’ fate was only temporarily avoided. Facing Greenwich’s third pitcher of the day, Pastore drove a 2-2 pitch to left and Cullinan raced home with the winning run.
“I was seeing the ball well all day, so I felt confident up there,” Pastore said. “He was throwing me fastballs and after I fouled one off I knew I could catch up to the next one.”