CRANFORD, NJ - The Gov. Livingston baseball team pounded out 14 hits and rolled to a 16-3, five inning victory over conference foe Cranford yesterday afternoon at Orange Avenue School, in Cranford.
The Highlanders who entered the season as the 8th ranked team in New Jersey according to NJ Advanced Media, has jumped up to number three (NJ.Com) after winning their first four games by a combined score of 45-7. They are currently the highest ranked public school in the state.
Will Jennings led the offense driving in five runs on two hits, which included his second home run of the season. Stephen Reid and Danny Serretti both continued their torrid hitting with two hits apiece, knocking in a combined six runs.
Not to be outdone by yesterday's offensive explosion, senior right hander Cole Schneider (1-0), who was making his first start of the season, pitched a gem, going all five innings while giving up only two hits and striking out a career high 9 batters. As impressive as the Highlander bats have been, the pitching staff has been equally impressive, having given up only five earned runs so far this season.
The Highlanders wasted no time putting runs on the board against Cranford starter Ryan Abrahamson as number three hitter Serretti (2-3) ripped a two run triple deep down the right field line to give the Highlanders a 2-0 lead. However, Abrahamson settled down and struck out the next three batters to close out the top of the first.
Cranford responded with a run in the bottom of the first without the benefit of a hit. Some aggressive base running and a failed pick off allowed Brian Oblachinski to score and bring the Cougars to within a run.
The Highlander hit parade got back on track in the second inning as they scored six times. First, Jennings ripped a single down the right field line scoring two runs. Abrahamson loaded the bases giving up a hit and a walk and was relieved by Vincent Genova.
Reid (2-3) promptly greeted Genova by ripping a double to left center scoring two more runs. The Highlanders tacked on a couple more runs and opened up an 8-1 lead.
Jennings provided the excitement in the third as he sped around the bases for a two run homer which pushed the Gov. Livingston lead to 10-1 and the rout was on.
Chris Libera who replaced Genova pitched the final 3 2/3 innings giving up 8 hits and 8 runs. Gov. Livingston scored in all five innings of the game with six different players having multiple hits. Tyler McCulloch (1-3), Nick Cocchia (2-3) and Reid(2-3) all drove in two runs each over the next three innings, pushing the lead to double digits and allowing the game to end after five innings of play
In between the Highlanders offensive outbursts, Schneider was cruising along. He did not surrender a hit until Michael Meola connected for a two run single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Schneider yielded one more hit but closed out his 83 pitch effort holding the Cougars scoreless in the fifth,ending the game.
The Highlanders lofty ranking will surely make them the team to circle on their opponents schedule over the coming weeks.
Next up, for the Highlanders will be home hosting undefeated Summit (6-0) on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Summit will most likely throw Ben Lim who is coming off a one hit complete game shutout of Linden. Summit chose to throw lefty Will Schaffer, a UPenn baseball commit, against New Providence on Tuesday, but he should be available on the back end of this game if need be.
The Highlanders finish the challenging week when Bergen County’s NV/ Old Tappan visits the Heights on Saturday for a non-conference battle at 12 noon. The Golden Knights bring in an experienced team led by senior pitchers James Stendl and Jack Bilali. Stendl a hard throwing lefty with a big curve ball and Bilali an aggressive hurler with good command will certainly provide a challenge to the hot Highlander lineup.