RIDGEFIELD — The hoped-for matchup between two of the FCIAC’s best pitchers took a while to materialize this afternoon, unexpectedly and abbreviated, as it turned out.
Trumbull’s Ben Fero went the first nine innings and Ridgefield’s Alex Price the final 5 1/3 in relief. The aces faced off for just over three innings in a game that was called for darkness after 11 intense innings with the score tied at 2-2.
“Definitely a playoff matchup that I could see in the future,” said Fero. “Me and Price, it was definitely fun to see a glimpse of it in the first game of the FCIAC.”
The conference opener will be completed on a date to be determined.
Fero did everything he could to give the Eagles (1-1) a chance to win. He gave up a run in the second inning and another in the sixth that tied the score, then pitched out of jams before running up against his limit.
Asked if it was difficult to watch the final two innings from the dugout, Fero said, “It was hard with all the adrenaline pumping but they put up a good fight. It was a good game on both sides and it was fun to be a part of. I felt I was throwing just as well in the 9th inning as I was in the 1st. I definitely think even if I wasn’t pitching in this game it would have been fun just because of the atmosphere. It was a bit more of an edge that I was pitching.”
Price was penciled to throw this game last week, but had a long outing on Thursday. His start was moved back to Wednesday, but Tigers coach Paul Fabbri was prepared to use him in relief if necessary to close out the game.
Price entered in the 6th after a strong outing by sophomore Matt DeLuca. There was a runner on second with two outs. He gave up a tying single to Kevin Bruggeman, but then held steady the rest of the way, working himself out of a few jams.
“One thing led to another and we wanted to win this game so I pitched as long as I did,” Price said. “It was real fun. I threw a ton of pitches on Thursday. I really wanted to go today but didn’t think it was a good idea. I had a lot of adrenaline because of the matchup.”
Fabbri admitted he too got caught up in the intensity of what seemed like a heated chess match, and decided to strategize for the present rather than the future.
“This game had that feel for it and the game dictated it,” Fabbri said. “You have to not worry what happens on Wednesday and kind of live in the moment. We felt like we could have had it. He said I want to keep going and we let him do whatever he wants.”
Brandon Bottino pitched well in the final two innings for Trumbull.
Ridgefield (2-1) got to Fero in the second on singles by Joe Pastore, Ben Cohen and an infield base hit by Nick Cullinan.
Trumbull tied the game in the 5th on Chris Briganti’s base hit.
After falling behind for the first time, the Tigers evened the score in the 6th on a base hit by Matt Stamatis.
Then came five innings of scoreless ball, the first three with Fero and Price locked in battle.
“Whenever he’s on the mound we expect to win,” Trumbull coach Phil Pacelli said. “It didn’t happen today but to be continued. It was a taste of a playoff atmosphere in game one of the FCIAC season.
Fabbri said a deadlock seemed appropriate.
“We’re in the same boat,” Fabbri said. “We have good pitching and we’re trying to figure things out on offense. We’re trying to figure out who goes where in our lineup. Moving parts. It’s a work in progress.”
Few will be disappointed if Fero and Price are on the mound whenever the game resumes.
“I guess we are going to come back here again,” Pacelli said. “It might be an hour bus ride for 15 minutes of game time.”