BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders baseball team opened the season with a bang in an 11-0 victory against New Providence in the first round of the Highlander Boys Varsity Classic in Berkeley Heights. Making the victory even sweeter was that it came against archrival New Providence. And making the victory more resounding was the fact that the game ended after just four and a half innings because of the mercy rule.
“New Providence beat us last year so we wanted to make sure we got this one,” Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof said. “I really liked our enthusiasm and how we came out of the gate and scored eight runs.”
The Pioneers were the first to bat. Governor Livingston senior pitcher Vin Doren set the tone by striking out the first batter. After walking the next batter, Doren struck out the next two.
“Victories like this start with good pitching,” Roof said. “Our pitching was very good and together Vinny and Sean Savage had a no-hitter.”
What happened next was an offensive explosion unlike most others at the high school level.
Will Jennings led the inning with a line double into the outfield. Drew Compton followed up with another double to center field for his first (and the team’s) RBI of the year.
Junior Dan Serretti (making his first appearance since the 2015 championship game) followed up Compton’s RBI double with a RBI double of his own.
After Dan Baroff was walked, Tyler McCullough smacked a single. With the bases all of a sudden loaded, Stephen Reid, who made his team debut, hit to center to score two runs.
Nic Cocchia followed that up with a hit of his own that scored another run to give his team a 5-0 lead.
After a pair of hits by DJ Gonnelli and Doren, Jennings smacked a home run to give his team an 8-0 lead.
“We got some nice, timely hitting and our defense for the most part was pretty good today,” Roof said. “If we can keep doing that, that will equate to some wins.”
After the Pioneers went scoreless at the top of the second, The Highlanders struck for two more in the bottom of the second thanks to Cocchia and Doren knocking in runs.
With the Highlanders up 10-0, Savage made quick work of the New Providence batters in the top of the fourth and closed out the fifth to end the game.
GL tacked on one more run on an RBI double by junior Jack Pedini in the bottom of the fourth.
The HIghlanders will face the winner of Kinnelon and Madison next Saturday in the final round of the Highlander Classic. In addition, they enter a tough week hosting powerhouse Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and travel to Elizabeth on Thursday at 4 p.m.