BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston baseball team's hot streak continued this week with two more victories to extend their winning streak to 9 games. On Tuesday against Union Catholic in Scotch Plains, Cole Schneider tossed a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits while striking out 13 batters for a 4-0 Highlander victory. Sean Savage followed with an impressive 10 strikeout complete game performance against Barringer, leading the Highlanders to an 8-2 win.
Gov. Livingston’s three wins this week can be attributed to the dominance of their starting pitching. In 19 innings of play this week, starters Schneider, Savage and Nick Cocchia gave up only two runs while fanning 28 batters. The Highlanders remain unbeaten this season and are the number 2 ranked team in the state by NJ Advance Media, which is the highest baseball ranking ever in school history.
Gov. Livingston 4 Union Catholic 0
After taking care of Union 10-0 on Monday afternoon behind Nick Cocchia's two hitter, the Highlanders traveled to Scotch Plains Tuesday to face Union Catholic in a cross conference matchup. The Vikings, who were coming off a dramatic 7-6 walk-off win the day before against Rahway, sent freshman Brendon Welsh out to face a Gov. Livingston lineup that has averaged 10 runs per game. Welsh, who in his previous start pitched a complete game victory over a strong hitting Scotch Plains team, kept the Highlanders scoreless through two innings despite having multiple runners on both innings.
The Highlanders broke through against Welsh in the third as Tyler McCulloch hit a liner into the right field corner for a run scoring triple. McCulloch then scored on a wild pitch to put the Highlanders up 2-0.
Meanwhile, Schneider was overpowering the Vikings, striking out 7 of 9 batters over the next three innings while clinging to the two run lead. The Vikings threatened in the sixth when they opened the inning with back to back singles put runners on first and second, but Schneider fanned the next two hitters and got a ground out to end the inning
The Highlanders headed into the final inning looking to tack on a couple of insurance runs to give Schneider some breathing room. Vin Doren gave the Highlanders exactly what they needed with some heads up base running after he opened the inning with a walk. Doren then swiped second base, advanced to third on a ground out, and scored on a ball in the dirt to push the lead to 3-0. Dan Baroff then knocked in Dan Serretti for the Highlanders' final run.
Schneider got two quick ground outs and fittingly struck out the next batter swinging on three pitches to end the game. His 13 strikeouts were a career high as he won his second game of the season
Gov. Livingston 8 Barringer 2
On Wednesday, playing for the third day in a row, the Highlanders returned home to face the Barringer Blue Bears in a cross county matchup. Pitching was again the key to victory as Sean Savage threw a complete game seven hitter as the Highlanders won their 9th consecutive game by an 8-2 margin. Savage struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk. The Highlanders recorded a season low two hits but took advantage of 11 walks and three errors to score their 8 runs.
The Highlanders hit several hard balls in the first couple of innings but could not break through against Barringer starter Disan Singleton until a misplayed ball in the outfield scored the game's first run. Tyler McCulloch then singled to drive in a run and the Highlanders were up 2 -0 after three innings. Savage had his only challenging inning of the game in the top of the fourth when the first two hitters reached on base hits and Justin Colon drove a ball into the gap for a two run double. The next hitter sacrificed Colon over to third and the Blue Bears were in position to take the lead. However Savage then threw just six pitches to the next two batters striking them both out swinging keeping the game tied.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Highlanders loaded the bases on three straight walks which brought leadoff hitter Nick Cocchia to the plate. Cocchia drove a ball to the fence in right field driving in a run with a sac fly to give the lead back to his team. A double steal led to another run as Sean Quinn scored on the front end of the steal.
The next inning, Gov. Livingston put the game out of reach scoring four runs on just one hit. Will Jennings dropped a single into center after the bases were loaded on three walks for an RBI. A combination of errors and walks led to three more runs coming across giving the home team an 8-2 lead.
Nick Cocchia provided some excitement in the top of the sixth when he made a diving catch in center with runners on second and third. After getting to his feet, Cocchia threw a strike to second base doubling off the runner ending the inning and effectively Barringer’s comeback hopes.
Savage faced only 26 hitters in seven innings of work and threw 77 pitches, 59 of which were for strikes, for his second win of the season.
The Highlanders will now play in the Autism Awareness Baseball Challenge on Sunday when they face Colonia at 1 p.m. in North Brunswick.