Faughnan late-game heroics steers Pequannock in 12U Spring Invitational

By DN WRITING STAFF | March 17, 2024

Pequannock players greet Tristin Liccardo after he scored the winning run in bottom of the sixth. 

By Sean Reilly 

Ryan Faughnan was both a pitching and hitting hero for the Pequannock Patriots on Saturday, and it all came in the very last stages of the game.

It all happened in the sixth inning of his team’s first game of the season, a matchup against the Renegades (N.Y.) 12U Blue in the Diamond Nation 12U Spring Invitational. 

Faughnan, who doesn’t pitch often, was pressed into mound duty with two outs in the top of the sixth, after the Patriots’ pitcher was injured covering the plate on a bunt single which tied the game. 

He ended the inning by getting a strikeout with the bases loaded, and then hit a single which brought in the winning run in the bottom of the frame for an entertaining 8-7 victory in Flemington.

The key for Faughnan, both on the mound and at the plate, was to keep things simple, even if the situation was tense. 

“My legs were like shaking,” he said. “I don’t really pitch much. It was hard. When I was pitching, I just tried to throw outside because I knew they had some good hitters who could definitely hit me. I was just trying to throw strikes. I slowed it down and got the job done.” 

In the bottom of the inning, he came to bat with runners on first and second, after Tristin Liccardo singled to right field with one out and Cameron Lamoureaux walked. 

Faughnan followed with a hard liner that tipped off the glove of a leaping shortstop and into center field for a base hit. The Renegades tried to force Liccardo out at third, but instead the throw went past the base and into dead ball territory, allowing him to come home with the winning run.

Pequannock catcher Tristin Liccardo tags out Renegades runner attempting to steal home.

“Coach told me to just hit it up the middle,” Faughnan said. “I wasn’t trying to do anything special, because there was already a guy on second. It feels really good to get a win like this in our first game. It’s a great feeling after working real hard during the winter.” 

To make it all happen, the Patriots had to overcome an impressive offensive display by Ryan Calderon of the Renegades.

Calderon drilled an RBI single off the fence in center field for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, hit a solo home run well beyond the left fence for a 2-2 tie with one out in the third, and then hit a two-run double off the fence in center to get his team within 7-4 with nobody out in the top of the sixth.

The sixth inning for the Renegades became more interesting. The batter after Calderon struck out, but Joey Thoma walked on a full count to load the bases. 

Chris Parker hit a fly ball that was dropped to score a run, and a balk scored Calderon to cut the deficit to 7-6.

That batter was called out on strikes for the second out, leaving runners on second and third for Nicky Cuevas. 

Cuevas surprised the Patriots and most everyone else at Field 2 by dropping a bunt toward the third base side. It was fielded by the pitcher, who tried to make a solo play at the plate. Thoma was safe with the tying run, and the pitcher had to exit after hurting his arm on his lunge toward home.

Renegades first baseman Carlo Palumbo snares liner for an out.

That’s when Faughnan entered as Pequannock’s third pitcher of the game. He walked the next batter to load the bases, but struck out the following hitter looking to set up the decisive bottom of the sixth. 

The Patriots built their earlier lead by scoring a run on an error and getting an RBI groundout from Chase Ringen for a 4-2 lead in the fourth. 

A wild pitch scored a run and Bryan Groninger added a two-run single to right field when the lead stretched to 7-2 with one out in the fifth. 

Both teams lost in their second games of the day in Pool C. The Patriots fell to the Morristown Shamrocks White, while the Renegades were beaten by the Diamond Jacks Super 12U.

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