ANNAWAN — Beginning a three-game stretch in four days against two of their fellow Lincoln Trail Conference baseball title contenders, the Ridgewood Spartans got down to business Monday afternoon.|
Taking on second-place Annawan-Wethersfield, Ridgewood parlayed a four-run third inning into a 4-3 victory and a sweep of the season series.
Ridgewood sophomore pitcher Ridge Greenman (4-1) went the distance at Howes Park to move the 19-3 Spartans to 15-0 in the LTC with key games against Mercer County looming today in Woodhull and Thursday at Aledo.
"A-W is a pretty good team, so it feels good to do this," Greenman said. "Now, we've got to get it done (today)."
A-W (17-5, 11-3 LTC) opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when Grant Baele singled in Matt Jenkins.
The Spartans got it done in the top of the third by putting up their decisive four-spot. Three straight singles loaded the bases with nobody out, including a bad-hop hit by Dusty Werner that bounded off the chest of A-W third baseman Tyler Litton. Ridgewood's Nick Ragan then belted a two-run double to right field.
"I just wanted to hit it and put it in play," said Ragan, who was 2-for-3 against A-W hurler Cody Phillips (4-1). "The infield was pretty choppy, so anything could happen."
After that rough third, Phillips settled down to blank Ridgewood. He allowed three earned runs on six hits, walking none and striking out eight. His Spartan counterpart, Greenman, allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out seven.
"Cody got his hand stepped on on a bang-bang play at third, but he gutted it out, even though he didn't have as much confidence in his fastball after that," said A-W coach Jeff Parsons. "He's gutty, though. That's what you expect from a senior leader like Cody."
A-W, the defending LTC champs, closed the gap to 4-2 in the fifth when Litton's two-out double scored Trey Hannam.
Then in the seventh, consecutive one-out doubles by Phillips (2-for-3) and Zach VanWassenhove made it a one-run game. Greenman issued a two-out walk to Kegan Jacobson to put the winning run at the plate but got Jenkins to ground out to end the ballgame.
"We just didn't string the hits together like we usually do," Parsons said. "This hurt us a bit, LTC-wise, but not for regionals. We're 17-5, and a lot of schools would love to have that record. We've got to move on, forget about this and get ready for Galva-Williamsfield (today and Thursday)."