BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - It started off as a gloomy Monday afternoon on the Hill as the Gov. Livingston varsity baseball team took on Morris Hills in the first round of the NJSIAA Sectional tournament. High winds, rain, spectators getting hit with foul balls and shaky pitching prevailed before pitcher Steve Duda stepped up to the challenge in the 9-2 victory.
Duda admitted after the game that he felt the pressure from the game but settled down around the third inning, when he remembered that the Highlanders are a “dominant” team. Through their early struggles, the crowd could be heard saying, “keep battling” and battle they did. The team finally quelled their nerves and showed their superiority.
Morris Hills led, 2-1, until the third inning where the Highlanders hit their stride with the help of DH Ethan Frohman who hit a RBI single sending a runner home to tie the game at 2-2. In the same inning, a Highlander stole home to take the lead 3-2. By the end of the inning the Highlanders could not be stopped, scoring another run and finishing out the inning with a 4-2 lead.
The top of the fourth showed that Duda’s nerves were completely out of his system succinctly retiring the side - three batters up and three batters down.
Coach Chris Roof said that Governor Livingston hitters “did very well” and senior Ryan Jennings proved this when he came up to bat in the fourth inning. Jennings hit a two run home run that started the rally that led the team to their 9-2 victory. Jennings kept his cool throughout the entire game. Even during the first innings when the team was out of sync due to nerves, he stood out as a pivotal player making confident catches in the outfield. Jennings was the steady foundation that the Highlanders needed to win this game. “It was nice to get the first victory and we are ready to take off from here,” said Jennings.
The team shows much promise against their next opponent Nutley. Coach Roof said “traditionally Nutley has very good hitters” but he is confident in Frohman on the mound and his entire team will take another victory and move on in this tournament.