BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Gov. Livingston outfielder Ryan Jennings stood on second base in the fourth inning of the Highlanders’ first round Union County Tournament and made a two word proclamation to his team: “Let’s Go!”
What followed Jennings’ decree was similar to what follows a gunshot at the start of a race. The Highlanders became a force to be reckoned with, scoring 11 runs over the next three innings to beat Linden 11-3 on Saturday at Gov. Livingston High School.
“We definitely decided to get a little bit more intensity going,” Jennings said. “We just needed some sort of energy to start putting runs across.”
Following Jennings’ double and an intentional walk to Ian Lynch, Pat Mahoney and Mike Falk drove in two apiece put the Highlanders up 4-0 thru four.
The Highlanders added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Following a leadoff single from designated hitter Barron Nattelli, Jennings ripped his third double of the game off the wall in center field.
Jennings advanced to third on a throwing error then scored two batters later on a ground ball off the bat of Pat Mahoney. Mahoney later scored on a double steal to give GL a 7-0 lead.
Despite trailing by seven, Linden didn’t go away quietly. After Gov. Livingston starting pitcher Ethan Frohman was removed from the game, the Tigers scored three times in the top of the sixth to pull within an arms length of the Highlanders. Jason Szurlej provided two of the runs courtesy of a 2-run homerun.
GL didn’t take long to respond offensively. Fueled by an apparent intentional trip by Linden third baseman Anthony Figueroa, the Highlanders batted around the order in the sixth inning for the second time in the game to put the contest out of reach.
Natelli, Jennings and Lynch each drove in a sixth-inning run as Gov. Livingston poured on four more to go ahead 11-3.
Roof said there was definitely some extra motivation for the Highlanders in the inning because of Figueroa’s play.
“We had a problem with him on Thursday too and we didn’t appreciate it,” GL’s 11th year head coach said. “Our kids are not going to overreact and do something silly and I’m proud of these kids for that. We use a lot of things for motivation and we used that today.”
The heart of the Highlanders’ offense was stellar over the last three innings. The second thru six spots in the lineup combined to score eight runs and drive in nine.
“I guess I did a good job filling out the lineup card today,” GL head coach Chris Roof said. “They’re good players that’s why they’re hitting there.”
Gov. Livingston ace Ethan Frohman remains perfect on the year, picking up his fourth win of the season. The junior went five innings, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out 10.
Senior Steve Duda closed out the game, allowing three runs on three hits with two strikeouts.
The Highlanders will host Elizabeth, weather permitting, in the quarterfinals of the Union County Tournament on Wednesday.