Editor's note: The following information and photos were submitted by team mother Heather Olivo.
The Ridge 8-year-olds' team's run towards a Cal Ripken Northern New Jersey State Championship came to an end Friday night in the state semifinal game with a hard-fought 5-4 loss to Warren.
The Ridge team took a 4-3 lead into the 5th inning but was unable to hold on against a strong Warren squad. The loss snaps a streak of eight consecutive wins for Ridge during the the state tournament playoffs.
The game started with offensive fireworks as Warren jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Ridge quickly answered with two runs of their own, highlighted by doubles from Alex Kim and Michael Olivo, following a walk to Brian Capato.
Ridge sprang ahead with a 4-3 lead in the 2nd inning: Luke Mahala, Daniel Taylor, Matthew Ricciardelli, Joseph Latta and Jake Fern led the charge.
Ridge then put its reliance on the team's usual winning formula of strong pitching with Gavin Kreitz throwing two scoreless innings. Jack Brenner and Cameron Mays excelled in the field.
Warren again scored runs in the 5th and 6th innings to take the lead. Ridge fought hard in the bottom of the 6th but was unable to tie the game.
While the loss was clearly disappointing for the players, Ridge, led by manager Scott Kim, has enjoyed a magical ride through the state tournament. The team was often cited for "playing the game the right way," a clear reflection on Kim, Olivo said.
"This is a talented group of boys that truly define being a team player and always show good sportsmanship. I look forward to watching their talent grow in the years to come," Olivo said.
Heading to Middle Atlantic Regional Tournament, to be played in Basking Ridge
Ridge will conclude this summer's season with an appearance in the Middle Atlantic Regional Tournament beginning Friday night at the Basking Ridge Baseball Club Complex.