UNION, NJ – Westfield’s Brad DeMartino pitched a complete game to lead the Blue Devils to their 14th Union County Tournament baseball championship by defeating top-seeded Gov. Livingston, 5-3, at Kean University on Sunday afternoon.
DeMartino scattered six hits and struck out eight while giving up three earned runs as he outdueled Highlanders' ace, Ethan Frohman, who was tagged with his first loss of the season.
"We went in with a plan to make him throw and he threw a lot of pitches," Blue Devils' head coach Bob Brewster said. "We're also a very deep pitching staff. I had my two, three and four ready for today. Brad just battled all the way through it. He's tough."
Westfield jumped on Frohman in the first inning as he found himself in trouble right away with runners on second and third with only one out. Chris Arena shot a ground ball to shortstop Steve Duda, who could not make the throw to first in time to get the out, scoring leadoff hitter Anthony Perconte. Frohman got the next batter, Michael Ionta, to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"Once we got that first run it kind of let me settle down a little and I knew that I just had to throw strikes and my team would have my back," DeMartino said.
The Highlanders wasted no time in the bottom of the first and scored two runs highlighted by Barron Natelli's double and a triple by Ryan Jennings.
Both pitchers settled down in the next two innings, throwing scoreless frames until the Blue Devils started their biggest rally of the game in the top of the fourth inning. Frohman got two quick outs but then walked Calvin Robertshaw which led to some trouble. Jacob Boyle, who hadn't played with the team much this season due to an injury, came up with a pinch-hit double to tie the game at 2-2.
"That really hurts, two-out walks," Governor Livingston's head coach Chris Roof said. "But that's baseball. Sometimes you're the king, and sometimes you're the dog."
Number nine hitter Dan DoCampo kept the inning and the rally alive with an RBI single to bring home Boyle and give his team the lead. DoCampo went 2-3 with two RBIs, one run and a double.
"When you get production throughout your lineup, that's when it's tough to beat you," Brewster said. "One of the things about this team is that we don't know the word quit. I don't care what the lead is, my team is going to battle until the end."
Perconte followed with a triple to bring home DoCampo, giving Westfield the eventual game-winning run. Perconte also made his presence known by flashing the leather and coming up with two separate run-saving catches in center field.
"We got a good hard-nosed group of kids and we have great pitching," Brewster said. "We got a great catcher who blocks everything, pitching has been great all year, the middle infield was solid today and there's nobody better in center field than Anthony (Perconte)."
Both sides scratched out a run in the sixth inning, but DeMartino struck out two in the seventh inning to close the door and get his team the UCT championship.
The victory was Westfield's eleventh-straight as they look to continue that streak with a four-game week ahead of them before the state tournament. Both teams are back in action tomorrow as Westfield takes on Linden and Gov. Livingston will travel to Roselle Park.