Five games in and Ridgewood is sitting pretty

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Junior Ethan Suh threw four quality innings to pick up the win and helped his own cause with two hits and 3 RBI for Ridgewood in a 7-4 victory over Ramapo on Tuesday.

FRANKLIN LAKES -- While many local baseball teams, if not most, have struggled with a variety of factors – plenty of rain, truncated preseasons, the new pitch count rule – to this point, there is one that seems to have sailed right through. Ridgewood got three games in during the first week, opened Week 2 with a win over Northern Highlands on Monday and then kept it rolling right through Tuesday’s early first pitch against Ramapo.

The Maroons are not too far behind in terms of having to make-up games, the pitch count rule is not really changing the way they do business and now they are a perfect 5-0 on the season after beating Ramapo for the second time in a week, 7-4.

Ridgewood, through the first 10 days of the season, is sitting pretty.

“We are not worrying about what is coming two games ahead, three games ahead or anything other than the game we are playing that day,” said Ridgewood senior leftfielder Charlie Cardew. “Whoever is on the schedule we are just going out there trying to do our best and it is working out so far. The focus is day by day and not worrying about anything else.”

Ridgewood has five seniors in its starting lineup that have all tasted varsity success and that experience played a factor in the outcome. Ramapo ran sophomore right-hander KC Hunt to the mound for his first varsity start and was as good as advertised. He was in the upper 87/88 range with his fastball right from the get-go and mixed in three other pitches, including a knuckleball, in for strikes. But any time the Green Raiders left the door open a crack, Ridgewood kicked it open.

The Maroons scored an unearned run in the top of the second inning when Ethan Suh was hit by a pitch and was replaced at first base by courtesy runner Alec Jacobson, who went to second on a back pickoff throw and to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Sam Favieri’s ground ball to second. It was an unearned run, but it gave Ridgewood a lead that it never relinquished.

In his first varsity start, Ramapo sophomore KC Hunt allowed just one earned run struck out five in four innings of work.

Suh was just getting started on what was a solid all-around performance. As the Maroons’ starting pitcher, he allowed just three hits and one earned run in four solid innings and at the plate he was 2-for-2 with three RBI and reached safely in all four of his plate appearances.

While he did not light up the radar gun like his counterpart, Suh was equally effective by hitting his spots and changing his speeds.

“I was just trying to throw strikes and help out my team. I knew I was not going to have the fastest velocity out there, but I was just trying to throw to contact and get outs that way,” said Suh (4 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 2 BB), a junior righthander, who never rushed his routine or his delivery. “When I was younger, if some kid hit a bomb off me I would pout and then try to throw hard and start walking people. But my dad told me that if you want to play baseball, you have to always have good body language, always keep within yourself and just pitch to your strengths. It was good advice that I always try to follow.”

Suh got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the second when he induced a line-drive double play and then hit the bases-empty, two-out single in the top of the fourth that led to Ridgewood’s second run. Jacobson went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Favieri’s (1-for-4, RBI) single to center. Hunt (4 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 K, 1 BB) struck out the final hitter of the fourth and Ramapo got a run back in the bottom of the inning on Matt Wingfield’s two-out single knocked in his brother AJ, but it was a battle of the bullpens after that and Ridgewood kept tacking on.

An RBI single with the bases loaded by Cardew (1-for-4, 2 RBI, R, SB) in the top of the fifth followed by a walk to Suh that forced home another run gave Ridgewood two more unearned runs and a 4-1 lead. Ramapo snuck back to within 4-3 in the bottom of the frame when an infield single by Michael Frank, a slow roller up the first base line, caused some confusion at the bag and allowed John Whooley (1-for-2, R, 2 BB) and Nick Scalabrini (0-for-1, RBI, R, 3 BB) to score for third and second base, respectively.

Charlie Cardew drove in two runs and scored another for Ridgewood, which is now 5-0 on the season.

But, in a familiar pattern, Ridgewood struck back for three more in the top of the seventh with Cardew and Suh again pushing the runs across. Cardew got the first one home with a ground ball that gave Tony Zambito (2-for-4, R) just enough time to beat the play at the plate and Suh knocked in the other two with a single to left.

Ramapo did manage to make Ridgewood sweat in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out rally. AJ Wingfield (2-for-4, 2 R), Whooley, Evan Mooney (2-for-4) and Scalabrini went single, walk, single, walk to get run home and put the tying run on first base, but Bobby Carpenter was able to slam the door with a strikeout for the final out of the game.

In the end, all went according to plan for Ridgewood skipper Kurt Hommen.

“We fought through a couple of situations today. They got back to within 4-3 and we came right back with an infield hit and another big two-out hit by Ethan to make it 7-3 to give us some more room to work with [in the seventh]. We made some good plays in the field, we got some timely hitting and it is a good win for us,” said Hommen, who is one of the rare few local coaches asked in our continuing informal poll (the first one actually) to not have a negative view of the new pitch count rule. “For us, we usually use three guys a game anyway. Parker Scott pitched a complete game for us yesterday [against Northern Highlands], but he threw only 78 pitches to do it. The new rule just won’t affect us that much because of the way our pitching staff is built.”

Ramapo (1-2) head coach Mickey Hunt went on the record with his views on the pitch count rule in a recent episode of Talkin’ Baseball right here on, but it was not the difference in Tuesday’s outcome.

“We gave away too many runs, too many mistakes to win any game and certainly too many against a team as good as Ridgewood,” said Hunt, who is relying on a deep sophomore class to fill many spots in the starting lineup. “Like I just told the kids, we can be a good team, I think we will be a good team, but we are not there yet. We have a lot of work to do.”