BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Gov. Livingston head baseball coach Chris Roof believes that a pitcher’s performance can set the pace of a game just as much as any other player on the field. His starter did just that in Tuesday’s Central Jersey, Group 2 semifinal.
Senior Ethan Frohman, pitching in his first state semifinal, struck out the first five Matawan Regional batters, leading up to an eight-run fourth inning, as Gov. Livingston defeated the Huskies, 12-2.
Roof said it all starts on the mound and Frohman might have had the best performance of his career.
“He set the tone,” Roof said. “We talked yesterday about keeping the momentum in the dugout and that’s what Ethan did. When he did that and we were able to score some runs, that’s a good sign. That’s what we tried to do.”
Matawan was overmatched from the moment Frohman stepped onto the mound, as he caught three Huskies looking and two swinging through the first two innings of the game. The Highlanders’ star pitcher allowed just four base runners on two hits and no runs over four innings of work for his second victory of the state tournament.
“It was all about really attacking these hitters,” Frohman said. “Going after them with fastballs, challenging them inside, then keeping them off-balance with the curveball.”
Frohman’s dominating start paved the way for Gov. Livingston’s overpowering offense to put the game out of reach. After scoring two runs in the second and third innings, the Highlanders sent 14 batters to the plate in the fourth, leading to eight runs.
With one out and a runner on third, Brian Cranston started a streak of six run scoring hits that blew the game open. Danny Serretti, Frohman, Ian Lynch, Mike Falk and Dan Belfer all drove in runs during the frame, which led to a mercy-shortened victory.
“Everyone is getting hot at the right time,” Falk said. “It's the perfect time to get hot I guess. Everyone is coming through at the right time.”
Falk, who along with the rest of the senior class had never played in a game this deep into the state tournament, was a home run short of the cycle. After hitting a single in his first at-bat, Falk drove in two with a double to left center in the third, before driving in another run with a triple in the fourth.
“He’s just a great hitter,” Roof said on his clean-up hitter. “He’s a good hitter. Pitchers don’t get Mike out. Mike gets Mike out. When Mike’s head is on straight and he puts good swings on the ball and has great at-bats, he’s very tough to get out.”
The victory puts Gov. Livingston in the Central Jersey, Group 2 championship game, one they will host on Friday for the first time since 2011.
Frohman will get the ball, looking for his third victory in this year’s tournament.
“It would definitely be special,” Frohman said on the Highlanders playing for a state title on their home field. “We’ve just been playing. We don’t want this to end. We want to keep playing. To play the game on this field would be special.”
First pitch for Friday’s section title game is scheduled for 3 p.m.