SPRINGFIELD – Dayton remembered the pain all too well.
The loss that ended its 2012 season.
The defeat that ended 2014, one game shy of reaching Toms River for the first time.
The setback that concluded the 2015 campaign.
Dayton simply could not get past Bergen County foe Ridgefield, sporting an 0-3 mark against the Royals in state tournament games coming into Tuesday.
Dayton senior Matt Pavick made sure the Bulldogs would not be denied the first time they hosted Ridgefield in state tournament play.
The right handed pitcher tossed a 3-hitter and the lefty-swinging No. 3 batter in the order produced a huge, opposite field, three-run triple in Dayton’s five-run fourth to lead the top-seeded Bulldogs past fourth-seeded Ridgefield 5-1 in Tuesday’s North 2, Group 1 semifinal contested at Ruby Field in Springfield.
Dayton improved to 18-5 and has now won three straight, six of seven and 10 of its last 12.
Ridgefield fell to 14-13.
“I was on the team two years ago when we lost to them and they had two great pitchers,” Pavick said. “To give up only one run, I think, is a career-low. This was one of my better wins.”
Dayton will next host seventh-seeded Glen Ridge in Friday’s final, also here at Ruby Field. The Bulldogs, who won their first-ever sectional championship in 2013 and then second in 2014 – both also at home – will be going for their third sectional title in five seasons.
Glen Ridge, which improved to 11-13, ousted 14th-seeded North Arlington (10-16) 8-0 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Pavick, now 4-1, in a 103-pitch performance allowed one run – on a sacrifice fly by John Miano in the sixth – on three hits, while striking out a near season-high 10 and walking three. He fanned 11 in one of his previous wins, which came against Brearley.
“My game plan was to throw strikes and if I was ahead early in the count to go with my off speed stuff,” Pavick said. “I wanted to keep them off balance as much as I could while also challenging them with my fastball at the same time.”
“That was a big-time performance by a senior,” said Dayton head coach Mike Abbate, who gained win No. 135, including a now state tournament record of 19-7.
Pavick gave up a shot to left-center on the third pitch he threw, with Ridgefield leadoff batter John Biggiani reaching with a double. Biggiani then moved to third on a wild pitch.
Pavick came back to strand Biggiani at third when he retired the next three batters on bunt attempt that went for a 3-4 out and then his first two strikeouts, the first swinging and the second looking.
“Matt hung a curve to their leadoff batter, who is a good player,” Abbate said. “By not letting them score there and getting the lead right away I thought was big.
“Matt threw a lot of strikes. His fastball was hitting both sides of the plate. He had good control.”
It appeared that the game was going to the fifth still scoreless. Dayton had a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the fourth when No. 9 batter Bryce Forys on the sixth pitch of his at-bat hit a slow roller to the right of Ridgefield starting pitcher Luis Correa (4-3). Correa could not pick up the ball cleanly and throw Forys out at first, with the ball getting just by him.
As a result, Anthony Santucci – who earlier in the inning reached on a four-pitch walk – moved to third and Forys reached first. Correa then walked Dayton leadoff batter Adam Wuest on four pitches to load the bases.
Joe Kastner, on a 2-2 count that included the last two pitches called strikes, managed to produce a bloop single in the infield past Correa and right in front of shortstop Joey Correa. The hit drove home Santucci with the game’s first run and kept the bases loaded for Pavick.
“Joe put the ball in play,” Abbate said. “They had their guy playing him deep.”
On a 3-1 count, Pavick followed with a blast that went over the head of the left fielder as all three Dayton baserunners scored. Pavick slid into third base with a monumental, three-run triple.
“I didn’t want to try to do too much there,” Pavick said. “I’m not a big guy that is going to hit the ball far. I put a good swing on it and hit a line drive that sort of sailed and the outfielder slipped.”
It was the 98th and final pitch Correa would throw. He entered the fourth having thrown 66 pitches after the first three innings.
Dayton scored its final run – still charged to Correa – against Ridgefield relief pitcher Sean Kuiken, who started the game at first base. Producing an RBI-single to left was sophomore designated hitter Jeffrey Carrier.
Dayton scored all five of its runs in the fourth with two outs and all were unearned. That didn’t matter one bit to the Bulldogs, who finally defeated the Royals in state tournament action.
“This was a big one for our program,” Abbate said. “We now have to prepare for another big challenge Friday.”
In 3 and 2/3 innings, Correa gave up five unearned runs on three hits, while striking out three, walking four and hitting two batters.
Dayton’s first hit was a single to left catcher Jack Quinn smashed leading off the second.
Going in to run for Pavick in the fourth was James Patania, who scored Dayton’s final run on Carrier’s hit.
Ridgefield’s final two hits came in the sixth. Sammy Vasquez led off with an opposite field single to left and eventually scored his team’s only run. Later in the inning after the Royals scored, Kevin Ok reached on a bunt single down the third base line.
Forys, in center field, made an athletic, diving catch to his right for the third out of the sixth.
NOTES: Ridgefield defeated Dayton 3-2 in eight innings at home in the 2012 semifinals and 5-1 at home in the 2015 semis. In between, Ridgefield came back to beat Dayton 6-5 in the 2014 Group 1 semifinal played at Ramapo College in Mahwah. The Royals scored the winning run in that game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
The 2012 game took two days to complete because of rain, while the 2014 contest started one day and was rained out and was then played from the beginning the next day.
Glen Ridge also reached last year’s N2, G1 final, falling to higher-seeded Bloomfield Tech 3-2 in a game played at the Kiwanis Oval in Caldwell.
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 BASEBALL SEMIFINAL AT RUBY FIELD
4-Ridgefield (14-13) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 – 1 3 2
1-Dayton (18-5) 0 0 0 5 0 0 x – 5 4 2
Dayton senior RH Matt Pavick (4-1)
7 innings complete, 103 pitches
1 run on 3 hits, with 10 strikeouts (7 swinging, 3 looking) and 3 walks
1-2-3 innings: second and fifth
Pitched to a minimum of 3 batters: second, fifth, seventh
Pitch count: 1-13. 2-16. 3-16. 4-21. 5-8. 6-13. 7-16. Total: 103.
Ridgefield senior RH Luis Correa (4-3)
3 and 2/3 innings (he started), 98 pitches
5 unearned runs on 3 hits, with 3 strikeouts (1 swinging, 2 looking),
4 walks and 2 hit batsmen
Pitch count: 1-24. 2-31. 3-11. 4-32. Total: 98.
RIDGEFIELD RELIEF PITCHER:
Junior RH Sean Kuiken
2 and 1/3 innings, 29 pitches
0 runs on 1 hit, with 4 strikeouts (1 swinging, 3 looking), 0 walks
1-2-3 inning: sixth
Pitch count: 4-5. 5-16. 6-8. Total: 29.
Ridgefield – Sammy Vasquez, Kevin Ok.
Dayton – Jack Quinn, Joe Kastner, Jeffrey Carrier.
Ridgefield – John Biggiani.
Dayton – None.
Ridgefield – None.
Dayton – Matt Pavick.
Ridgefield – None.
Dayton – None.
4-John Biggiani, senior, second base
3-Sammy Vasquez, sophomore, right field
11-Luis Correa, senior, pitcher
27-John Miano, senior, catcher
14-Kevin Ok, freshman, center fielder
1-Joey Correa, sophomore, shortstop
19-Sean Kuiken, junior, first base-pitcher
34-Brandon Nunez, junior, designated hitter
8-Michael Faris, junior, third base (did not bat)
21-Mike Manresa, junior, left field
24-Nick Sawh, senior, pinch hitter
3-Adam Wuest, junior, shortstop
11-Joe Kastner, senior, second base
22-Matt Pavick, senior, pitcher
44-Jeffrey Carrier, junior, designated hitter
6-Will Hodic, junior, first base (did not bat)
5-Anthony Monguso, senior, right field
14-Jack Quinn, junior, catcher
13-Anthony Santucci, junior, third base
2-Jon Holland, senior, left field
7-Bryce Forys, junior, center field
2017 NORTH 2, GROUP 1 BASEBALL
SEEDS: 1-Dayton. 2-Roselle Park. 3-Dunellen. 4-Ridgefield.
5-Shabazz. 6-Belvidere. 7-Glen Ridge. 8-Becton.
9-Brearley. 10-Secaucus. 11-Bloomfield Tech. 12-Weehawken.
13-Hoboken. 14-North Arlington. 15-Technology. 16-Somerset Tech.
Dayton 13, Somerset Tech 0 – at Dayton
Becton 5, Brearley 4 – at Becton
Weehawken 5, Shabazz 0 – at Shabazz
Ridgefield 7, Hoboken 1 – at Ridgefield
North Arlington 4, Dunellen 1 – at Dunellen
Bloomfield Tech 3, Belvidere 2 – at Belvidere
Glen Ridge 8, Secaucus 3 – at Glen Ridge
Roselle Park 18, Technology 0 – at Roselle Park
Dayton 6, Becton 3 – at Dayton
Ridgefield 12, Weehawken 1 – at Ridgefield
North Arlington 3, Bloomfield Tech 2 – at Bloomfield Tech
Glen Ridge 11, Roselle Park 0 – at Roselle Park
Tuesday, May 30
Dayton 5, Ridgefield 1 – at Dayton
Glen Ridge 8, North Arlington 0 – at Glen Ridge
Friday, June 2
7-Glen Ridge at 1-Dayton, 4 p.m.