TRUMBULL — Trumbull’s Bryan Kraus was well aware of what was at stake when he came out of the bullpen to preserve Trumbull baseball’s 2-1 victory over Ridgefield in a Class LL first-round state tournament game on Wednesday.
“Yes, it was all hands-on-deck,” said Kraus, a right-handed sophomore who relieved with no outs in the top of the fourth with a man on first and then retired 9-of-10 batters to get the save.
“Coach (Phil Pacelli) told me to stay loose and I was ready when they needed me. My changeup was working. There are 13 seniors on this team, and it was important to keep the season going.”
No. 20 Ridgefield had defeated No. 13 Trumbull by a score of 2-0 in the regular season. The Tigers’ Matt DeLuca pitched the shutout and was on the hill for Wednesday’s rematch.
“We knew that we were going to have to beat a good pitcher and we did just enough,” said Pacelli, whose 14-7 Eagles will visit No. 4 South Windsor (17-3) on Thursday at 4 p.m. “We had two sophomores on the mound today (Andrew Harvey and Kraus). It’s what Bryan has been doing for us all year. He is our toughest reliever. He gets in there and gets it done. We had the timely hitting from Kevin Bruggeman and Ray Leonzi.
Sean Livingstone’s RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the second gave the Tigers (12-9 ) the lead. An inning-opening error opened the door and Tom Gioffre’s single swung it open.
Bruggeman, who threw a runner out attempting to steal and made a fine play on a foul pop, tied the game with a single to right in the third. DeLuca gave up infield hits to Leonzi and Tim Lojko to set up the rally.
Luke Masiuk singled hard to left on the first pitch in the home fourth. DeLuca retired the next two batters, with center fielder John Briody robbing Greg Kaufmann of extra bases and an RBI with a diving catch in left-center. With the count full however, Leonzi then stroked his go-ahead single.
“I expected it to be a pitcher’s duel with Matt DeLuca for us and because they have several solid pitchers,” Ridgefield coach Mike Scarlett said. “We thought it would be 1-0, 2-1. Early on we executed just like we had hoped. They got a couple of key hits at the end and that was it.”
Briody opened the game with a single off the right-handed Harvey, before Bruggeman threw a perfect peg to Chris Brown at shortstop for a caught stealing. Nic Cullinan drew a walk only to be left stranded.
In the Ridgefield third, Cullinan and Matt Restivo worked one-out walks. Harvey turned a comebacker into a force out at third and Chris Briganti at first went into foul territory to glove the final out.
Harvey set the Tigers down in order in the third, but Alex Hanna had a pinch-hit single to start the fifth. Kraus got the next out himself, then enticed a pop-up and a ground out to Brian Hance at second.
Lojko’s second hit began the Trumbull fifth. Right-fielder Cole Blackwell’s great play in foul territory dampened the flame and Livingstone put it out with a caught-stealing throw to Colin LaCoille.
Kraus struck out the first two batters in the seventh. Hanna kept Tiger hopes alive with a two-strike single. Kraus then put the last out in the book on a caught-looking strikeout.
Lojko and Leonzi each had two hits for Trumbull. Bruggeman, Masiuk and Briganti had the others.
The Tigers’ Hannah had two singles. Gioffre and Briody had the other hits.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Trumbull’s Bryan Krauss. A sophomore, Kraus came in with a man on first and no out in the fifth. He retired eight consecutive batters. Kraus gave up a two-out single in seventh, then struck out the last batter.
“Coach (Phil Pacelli) told me to stay loose and I was ready when they needed me. My changeup was working. There are thirteen seniors on this team, and it was important to keep the season going.” — Bryan Kraus