The Ridgway minor league all-stars once again had the game in doubt until the final pitch.
Once again, Ridgway survived a final-inning rally victorious.
A third straight close call gave the Ridgway 9- and 10-year-olds the D-10 North Division title and a chance to play for the D-10 title outright with a 13-12 victory over Bradford Tuesday night at the Ridgway Little League fields along Grant Road.
"They're a great group that listen and they pay attention," Ridgway head coach Josh Wickett said. "They want to win. This is one of the most competitive bunches I've ever seen. I've got a good supporting cast, the coaches are great, the players are great. My job is easy, I just organize it. We close it out but they scare me sometimes. We get it done. We have a lot of depth on this team so I'm excited."
Ridgway goes on to play D-10 South division winner Brookville. Both teams went through divisional play undefeated so the North/South championship will be decided with a best-of-3 series which starts at 6 p.m. Friday. Ridgway will host Brookville in Friday's Game 1 while Brookville hosts Ridgway in Game 2 at 4 p.m. Saturday. If a Game 3 is necessary, the site and time will be determined later.
Ridgway was the home team for the first time in the tournament but had to sweat out a late rally from Bradford. Ridgway led 13-9 entering the top of the sixth but Tyler Gigliotti led off by reaching on an error. After a fielder's choice, Colby Keane knocked a bunt down the third base line for a hit. Matt Murphy then reached on another error which allowed Nuzzo to cross the plate. After a strikeout, Keane and Murphy would both eventually score on wild pitches to bring the lead down to one.
Ridgway pitcher Greg Simon would get a flyout to second base to end the game and give Ridgway its third straight victory.
Ridgway had allowed six runs in the sixth inning in both prior victories against Warren and in a prior meeting with Bradford but managed to pick up the victory both times. Ridgway won 12-10 over Warren and 9-7 over Bradford last Friday.
Ridgway opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the second inning. Jack Cowan reached on a Bradford error and Haydn Yeager followed with a single. Robert Briggs then singled which scored Cowan for the game's first run. Dan Ouellette would single home Yeager for a 2-0 Ridgway lead.
The lead would swing back to Bradford in the third. Hunter Fox doubled to start the inning and Derek Sonafrank singled to put runners at the corners. Fox would score as Matthew Franz grounded out to second. Cole Sebastian doubled home Sonafrank to tie the game, Sebastian moved to third on the error. Gigliotti then hit Bradford's second straight double which plated Sebastian. Gigliotti scored on an error. Keane would later hit into a fielder's choice to second and he later scored on a wild pitch as Bradford led 5-2.
Ridgway trailed for the first time in the tournament heading into the bottom of the third inning but would take the lead quickly with a 7-run outburst. Jake Wickett led off with an infield single and scored on a triple to right field by Deven Papa. Papa scored on a single by Cowan and Yeager reached on an error. Briggs hit another RBI single which plated Cowan to tie the game at 5-all.
After a strikeout, Matthew Dush would plate two after a single scored Yeager and Briggs. Zack Zameroski singled and Wickett would add a second straight single to score Dush for an 8-5 lead. Simon reached on a Bradford error which scored Zameroski for a 9-5 Ridgway lead after three innings.
"I think it showed they have hearts of a champion because they kept at it, they were down 5-2, fought back, regained the lead and never gave it up," coach Wickett said. "Those guys never quit out there."
Coach Wickett thought the immediacy of the 7-run inning hurt Bradford's chance of a long-term rally.
"I think we deflated their momentum there and that gave us the edge," coach Wickett said.
Bradford would keep the offense moving in the fourth with a 3-run inning. Fox doubled and scored on a single by Sonafrank. Trent Windsor tripled home Sonafrank but was tagged out at home. Gigliotti walked and later scored on a single from Caleb Nuzzo.
Ridgway added multiple runs for the third straight inning with a 4-run bottom of the fourth frame. Cowan led off the inning with a single. After a strikeout and flyout, Jayden Gustafson singled home Cowan, Ridgway's 10th run of the game. Dush walked and Zameroski roped a double which scored Gustafson and Dush and pushed the lead to 12-7. Simon then singled home Zameroski which added another tally to Ridgway's ledger.
Bradford added a run in the fifth inning as Cameron Magee walked and later scored on a groundout to first base from Windsor.
Zameroski, Briggs and Wickett each had three hits for Ridgway and everyone on the team had at least one hit as Ridgway finished with 19 hits for the game. Cowan led the way with three runs scored while Dush, Zameroski and Yeager each had two. Dush, Zameroski and Briggs also had two RBI apiece.
Yeager had two strikeouts in 2 1-3 innings while Dush had one strikeout in 1 2-3 innings. Simon closed the game by pitching the final two innings and recording two strikeouts.
Bradford AB R H BI
Cole Sebastian 4 1 1 1
Tyler Gigliotti 3 2 1 1
Caleb Nuzzo 4 1 2 1
Colby Keane 4 2 2 0
Peyton Manion 2 0 0 0
Isaac Smith 2 0 0 0
Hunter Fox 4 2 3 0
Derek Sonafrank 3 2 2 1
Matthew Franz 1 0 0 1
Trent Windsor 2 0 1 2
Cameron Magee 1 1 0 0
Matt Murphy 1 1 0 0
Totals 31 12 12 7
2B: Fox 2, Sebastian, Gigliotti. 3B: Windsor.
Ridgway AB R H BI
Matthew Dush 4 2 2 2
Zack Zameroski 5 2 3 2
Jake Wickett 4 1 3 1
Greg Simon 4 0 1 1
Deven Papa 4 1 1 1
Jack Cowan 4 3 2 1
Haydn Yeager 4 2 1 0
Robert Briggs 4 1 3 2
Dan Ouellette 1 0 1 1
Jayden Gustafson 3 1 2 1
Totals 37 13 19 12
Bradford 005 313 - 12
Ridgway 027 40x - 13