Favieri spins a gem as Ridgewood blanks Rutherford

Thursday, May 11, 2017

RIDGEWOOD -- The pressure of the one-and-done format of the Bergen County Tournament will test any player as every swing of the bat or toss of the ball could be a game-changing and season-changing moment. For Ridgewood, the No. 9 seed, it was two players in particular that embraced the ramped up atmosphere.

The arm of Sam Favieri and the bat of Andrew Eng were the two most effective tools that Ridgewood used to cut down 24th-seed Rutherford, 5-0, in the county tournament opener on Wednesday afternoon.

Favieri allowed just one hit and just two baserunners over six innings of quality work that included 11 strikeouts. Eng drive in two of the Maroons’ five runs as as Ridgewood booked its spot in the Round of 16 where it will take on No. 8 St. Mary on Saturday.

“I kept my composure. Even with the ump having a tight strike zone, I just kept throwing strikes,” said Favieri. “No pressure on me or my teammates, just kept in mind that getting the first out was very important. Going deeper into counties teams will have more quality hitters, but we will continue to keep the same approach.”

Favieri was locked in from his first pitch as he got a groundout, a strikeout and a pop out to work a 1-2-3 opening inning. Ridgewood then went ahead for good in the bottom of the first inning sparked by a leadoff single by shortstop Chris Symington, who would eventually come around to score the game’s first run on a double by catcher Charlie Cardew.

In the bottom of the second an infield single from Favieri would eventually lead to a run as he scored on a soft hit groundball hit by Ethan Suh.

Andrew Eng got things going in the bottom of the third as he hit a screaming shot to right field on a 2-1 pitch that would plate Symington, who scored two key runs in the game for the Maroons, who did not need much more in the way of offense with the way Favieri kept pumping in strikes.

“It started with our pitcher. Sam who only gave up one hit today,” said Ridgewood head coach Kurt Hommen. “He hit his spots real well, had good velocity today and we also scored a couple runs early that helped Sam’s confidence.”

Eng padded the lead in the bottom of the fourth with another RBI single to right field this time on a 1-1 count.

“Today I felt pretty good. After the first at bat I had to change my approach to be a little shorter to the ball,” said Eng. “Their starting pitcher had good velocity and I knew today that I would have a quicker bat which helped me a lot. Our team performance was incredible. We jumped on them early and our pitcher Sam had an impressive performance per the usual. We are just on a roll and playing well as a team.”

Ridgewood, the highest seeded team in the play-in round, improved to 17-2 on the season and is a threat to go deep into the tournament again after last year’s trip to the quarterfinals.

“This win helps us to advance to the next round and play another good team in Saint Mary’s of Rutherford on Saturday,” said Hommen. “We get the chance to play a very good team and we know it is going to be a challenge, but it is something we are looking forward too.

Tyler Drakeford is a 2013 graduate of Hackensack High School who just earned his Associate's Degree from Bergen County Community College this spring.