Teams that have replaced every starter from a year ago both in the field and on the mound aren't supposed to knock off defending state champions at their home park.
Just don't tell the Ridgefield Tigers.
After graduating 16 seniors last season, Ridgefield (5-5, 5-3 FCIAC) topped reigning Class L champion New Canaan in a see-saw 7-5 affair Monday at Mead Park. The conference foes recorded four lead changes in the middle innings, before Tiger senior Sam Sarath shut the door with a two-frame save. John Boscia plated the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth that put Ridgefield ahead 6-5 before the Tigers added an insurance run in the seventh.
"We kept telling the kids we think there's a good team here," Ridgefield coach Paul Fabbri said. "But I really couldn't keep telling them they were a good team. They had to find out for themselves. And I think they did today."
The loss ended a six-game winning streak for the Rams (8-2, 6-2 FCIAC), who outscored opponents by 58 runs over that stretch. A JR Anderson overthrow in the sixth inning set the table for the Tigers' comeback and marked the game's third error on a tough day defensively.
"It was a sloppy game mentally and physically," New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. "And against good teams that's going to come up and bite you."
Down by one run with six outs to go, Ridgefield worked a pair of walks from Ram reliever Alex LaPolice, who was quickly removed in favor or Anderson. After reeling in a ground ball from the first hitter he faced, Anderson fired high to first base, which pushed the game-tying run across and another runner to third. Then, Boscia recorded a deep out to center that put his team on top for good.
"I was proud of that sixth inning," Fabbri said. "We've been fighting all year, but to do that, that was a really good job."
Though he had handed the Rams a one-run lead after five innings, Tigers starter Joe Ammirato picked up his second win, surrendering four earned runs and notching four strikeouts.
In the bottom of the third, a ground ball that caromed off his leg into right field was the only thing to prevent Ammirato from holding the Rams scoreless during the early going. Instead, Matt Toth plated two runs, before the Ridgefield hurler suffered an unearned run in a tricky fourth.
One inning later, Ammirato induced a pair of fly outs to finish his afternoon, one highlighted by his greatly effective breaking ball.
"Joey did a really nice job and then Sammy (Sarath) came in and polished it off," Fabbri said.
The Tigers opened the scoring with an RBI groundout from Craig Burke in the first inning and added to it with an unearned run in the third. When New Canaan tied the game on Toth's fortuitous base hit and took the lead via an error soon afterward, Ridgefield responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth.
Following a Burke walk, Wright Lindgren crushed a double to right and Sarath knocked a run-scoring single to left to tie the game. In the next at-bat, Colin Belardinelli sent an Anderson fastball to center for a sacrifice fly that produced a 5-4 Tigers lead.
Ridgefield 7, New Canaan 5
Ridgefield 101 022 1 -- 7 8 2
New Canaan 002 120 0 -- 5 8 2
Records: Ridgefield 5-5, 5-3 FCIAC; New Canaan 8-2, 6-2 FCIAC. Batteries: R--Joseph Ammirato (W, 2-2), Sam Sarath (S, 2) (6) and Ben Peters and Joseph Coyle; NC--Dan Rajkowski, Alex Lapolice (L, 2-1) (5), JR Anderson (6) and Zack Smith.
Highlights: R--Sam Sarath picked up a two-inning save, while going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Ben Peters and Wright Lindgren each reached base three times and combined for three runs. NC--Matt Toth had a two-run single in the third inning with two outs. Kane Curtin had two doubles with an RBI.