Baseball: Gonnelli, Monroy Lead Gov. Livingston Highlanders to Wins Over Linden and New Providence Capping Perfect Week

Gov. Highlanders with four wins this week raised their season mark to 19-2 and with Tuesday's 3-1 win over Westfield captured their first ever Union County Conference- Watchung Division title. Credits: S. Jennings
Credits: S. Jennings
Credits: S. Jennings
Credits: S. Jennings
Credits: S. Jennings
Credits: S. Jennings

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston baseball team got outstanding starting pitching performances from junior lefties DJ Gonnelli and Ryan Monroy to close out the week(4-0) with wins over Linden and New Providence. Gonnelli making his first start of the season went five strong innings, giving up just four hits and no earned runs in an 8-3 win over Linden. Monroy followed with his second consecutive quality start holding New Providence scoreless over four innings while giving up just two hits and striking out three as the Highlanders pounded the Pioneers 14-0 in a five inning game.

Gonnelli and Monroy both picked up their first career victories. Gov. Livingston sophomore Stephen Reid gave his pitchers plenty of support in the two games going 7-8 with three doubles, a triple and a homer while driving in seven runs.

Gov. Livingston with four wins this week (Westfield, Union, Linden, New Providence)  raised their season mark to 19-2 and with Tuesday's 3-1 win over Westfield, captured their first ever Union County Conference- Watchung Division title.

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The Highlanders have five regular season games remaining before the state playoffs begin on May 25th. They now have secured the Number 1 seed in the upcoming Central Jersey, Group II state sectional playoffs as they begin their quest for a fourth overall Group II NJ State championship .

Gov. Livingston 14 New Providence 0

The Highlanders playing their fourth game in four days showed no signs of fatigue as they jumped on three New Providence pitchers for 14 runs in the first two innings as they pummeled the Pioneers 14-0 Friday afternoon at Snyder Park in Berkeley Heights. Ryan Monroy had his way with the Pioneer lineup giving up just two hits in four innings of work. Liam Hulburt came on in the fifth to relieve Monroy and closed out the shutout. It was the second time the Highlanders shutout the Pioneers this season with both games ending after 5 innings due to a 10 run differential.

Tyler McCulloch (1-2,3 RBI) leading off for the first time this season drove a ball deep to left field for a double to open the game. The Highlanders Stephen Reid (3-3,HR,3B.2B), Dan Baroff (1-3,2b) and Drew Compton (2-2,2b) all pounded consecutive doubles and the rout was on. Gov. Livingston went on to score 9 first inning runs with Reid  providing 2 RBI doubles as the Highlanders sent 13 batters to the plate.

The offensive barrage continued in the second inning as Compton, DJ Gonnelli,and Nick Cocchia ripped base hits and Vin Doren (1-2,2 RBI) drove a ball deep into left field for a two bagger. Reid finished off the second big inning with a booming triple to right center field scoring the Highlanders 14th run of the contest.

Monroy was lifted after throwing 55 pitches to give Hulburt some needed work, as the Gov. Livingston lineup also turned over with the big lead. The Highlander defense was perfect on the day and right fielder Will Jennings provided some excitement in the top of the fifth as New Providence tried to get something going against Hulburt. Pioneer John Grill who lined a ball into right field  was nailed at second base by a perfect throw by Jennings as he tried to stretch his hit into a double. Hulburt then finished off his 11 pitch inning to complete the Highlanders 19th win of the season.

There may be a third matchup between the two neighborhood rivals in the upcoming CJ,GII state playoffs as New Providence (8-13) currently holds the 16th seed in the section. The game would be played at Gov. Livingston as the Highlanders will hold home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Gov. Livingston 8 Linden 3

DJ Gonnelli made the most of his first start this season as he shut down the Linden Tigers over five innings of work and Dan Baroff (3-4,2 2B) and Stephen Reid (3-4,HR) provided the offensive support as the Highlanders powered by Linden 8-3 on Thursday afternoon in Linden. Gonnelli struck out six and did not yield an earned run in his five innings of work in picking up his first career victory. Baroff drove in two runs with a pair of doubles and Reid connected on his team leading fifth home run while knocking in three runs.

Gov. Livingston jumped out to a first inning lead after Reid singled and Baroff drilled a double into right field to give the Highlanders a quick 1 zip lead. They tacked on four more against Tiger starter Shawn Duffy in the third with Reid and Baroff both driving in runs. Linden came back with an unearned run against Gonnelli as he gave up singles around an infield error.

Duffy managed to quiet the Highlanders bats the next three innings and kept Linden within striking distance as the Tigers put up two sixth inning runs to close to within 5-3. John Colendenski who relieved Gonelli to start the bottom of the sixth was a victim of a defensive miscue which led to an unearned run before he settled down allowing just one other run.

Reid got the Highlanders and Colendenski exactly what they needed as he took Duffy deep for a two run homer pushing the lead back up to four. Baroff then ended Duffy's day as he doubled to right field. After moving over to third on a ground out, Tyler McCulloch brought him in with a sac fly for the Highlanders 8th run.

Colendenski then retired the side in order for the Highlanders 18th win of the year.

Gov. Livingston 10 Union 7 

The Highlanders needed an extra frame to knock off a determined Union Farmer team as they came away with a 10-7 conference victory on Wednesday afternoon in Union. Gov. Livingston surrendered two leads during the game as the Farmers fought back with a run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.  The Highlanders managed to put up five runs in the top of the eighth and Sean Savage saved his second game of the week as he closed out the win.

Stephen Reid (2-3, HR) got things going as he took a first pitch offering over the left field fence for his team leading fourth homer of the year putting the Highlanders up 1-0. Gov. Livingston managed to score only one run in the second inning despite having the bases loaded with no outs to go up 2-0.

Union closed to within a run after Cole Schneider gave up a single and a walk before Zach Fernandez knocked in a run with a single to left field.

The Highlanders pushed their lead to 4-1 with a nice two out rally in the fifth as Dan Baroff doubled in Drew Compton who singled (1-3) and Reid who walked to give Schneider a little cushion. Union reliever Andrew Sanborn worked out of further trouble as the Highlanders loaded the bases, but could not get the big hit to break open the game.

Union took advantage of Schneider's lack of control in the fifth to push across three runs to tie the game. After putting two Farmers on with a walk and a hit batter to open the inning, it appeared he would get out of this as he got two outs with just one run scoring on a fielder's choice. However, as he struck out the next batter he reached on a wild pitch dropped third strike and another run came across. Joe Valentine who started the game on the mound for Union doubled in a run to tie the game at four.

Gov. Livingston took the lead back, 5-4, in sixth on a Dan Serretti RBI single but Union scratched out the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.

The Highlanders finally had the big inning they needed by scoring five times in the eighth. The big hits coming from Will Jennings, Vin Doren and a two run double from Nick Cocchia. Savage who pitched the final two innings in a big win over Westfield earlier in the week, came in for the final two outs after the Farmers had closed to with 10-7.

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