When the Morris County high school baseball coaches convened last week to determine the seeding for the annual crapshoot known as the Morris County Tournament, Hanover Park received the No. 21 seed.
It turned the Hornets into a total afterthought, almost unthinkable considering the rich tradition of the program.
“We were better than our 2-4 record,” veteran Hanover Park head coach Dave Minsavage said. “But we needed to show that, not just say that.”
As the Hornets took the sojourn west to face West Morris on Wednesday afternoon, they had a purpose in mind.
“We wanted to prove that we could compete with anyone,” senior left-handed pitcher Justin Faybusovich said. “We knew that they had a pretty solid team.”
The Wolfpack did receive the No. 3 seed from the coaches for the MCT, but that did not bother the Hornets one iota Wednesday. Led by a great pitching performance from Faybusovich and a clutch three-run sixth-inning rally, the Hornets came away with a 4-1 victory over the Wolfpack.
The kid with the long last name was on the mark from the outset, allowing just three hits and surrendering an unearned run in six innings, striking out four and walking four.
“My goal is to try to keep it low,” Faybusovich said. “I want them to hit ground balls and then trust my fielders to make the plays. That’s what happened today.”
West Morris head coach Dan Wydner tipped his hat to Faybusovich.
“He was away in the strike zone and we couldn’t square up and hit his pitches,” said Wydner, whose team dropped to 7-4 with the loss. “We couldn’t do anything against him. He stayed away from the barrels of the bats. He was a little sneaky fast and did a good job against us.”
The Wolfpack turned to ace Andrew Politi, who was limited to 50-plus pitches because Wydner wants to keep Politi fresh for this weekend’s tournament.
“That’s three times this year where we didn’t score for Andrew Politi,” said Wydner of the senior righty. “He has an 0-2 record with a no decision. We just have to have a better approach at the plate.”
Wydner said that this was the sixth time in 11 games where the Wolfpack has scored three runs or less.
“I was hoping to contact some life here,” Wydner said. “You can’t win with just four hits.”
West Morris scored first without the benefit of a hit. Connor Thompson walked, stole second, went to third on an error and scored on Collin Sokolowski’s ground out to second base.
The game remained that way until the top of the fifth, when the Hornets (6-5) tied the game. Justin Jeannette singled and came around to score on Mike Cerniglia’s single. The Hornets might have taken the lead, but Lorenzo Cordorvano was thrown out at the plate, trying to score on Cerniglia’s single.
The Hornets then blew the game wide open in the top of the sixth against reliever and losing pitcher Chase Wanic.
Mike Kiray singled and moved to second when Chris Keenan was hit by a pitch. John Moran then delivered a hard hit double down the right field line, snapping the 1-1 tie.
Hanover Park (6-5) 000 013 0 – 4 8 1
West Morris (7-4) 010 000 0 – 1 4 2
2B: HP-Mike Kiray, John Moran; WM-Pat Anderson.
WP: Justin Faybusovich (2-2). LP: Chase Wanic (0-1).