BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - On Senior Day, the Governor Livingston Highlanders’ baseball team defeated the Mountain Lakes Lakers, 8-3. With the win, Governor Livingston improved to 21-5 while the Lakers fell to 11-12. After a heartbreaking loss to Cranford in the Union County Final last weekend, the Highlanders have responded with four consecutive wins and have outscored their opponents 32-13 during the stretch.
The 15 seniors were honored as they were introduced along with their parents in a pre-game celebration: Seniors celebrated: Frank Barone, Dan Belfer, Mark Cranson, Rob Dilly, Greg Ellenberger, Mike Falk, Ethan Frohman, Tim Hardina, Ian Lynch, Kevin Morgan, Mike Policastro, Vin Polimeni, John Tedesco, John Wills (injured) and Ryan Zucker.
Fittingly, on Senior Day in Berkeley Heights, the Highlanders were led by the senior trio of Ian Lynch, Dan Belfer, and John Tedesco at the plate. It was Tedesco who blew the game open for Governor Livingston in the fifth inning. The Highlanders scored five runs in the inning and put the game out of reach. The key moment of the inning came from Tedesco, who smacked a 2-run homer.
“John Tedesco’s home run was beautiful and really extended the lead for us,” Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof said. “That home run gave us some breathing room. It was nice to see John hit the ball as hard as he did because he’s had some tough luck at the plate lately. It was nice to see him have some success today.”
The fact that Tedesco broke through on Senior Day made his home run even more special. What was more special was the fact that Roof was able to play all 14 of his seniors. Tedesco’s home run gave his team enough of a lead to allow Roof the luxury of inserting his seniors into the lineup for the game’s final two innings.
All 14 of his seniors having the opportunity to play made Roof just as happy, if not more, as getting the win itself.
“Having 14 seniors, it’s not easy getting every single one of them into one game,” Roof said. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to win baseball games. But if we can get all the kids in, we’ll definitely get them in and it worked out that way today even though it’s not easy to do playing all 14 of them.”
Another touching moment came in the seventh inning when senior pitcher Vinny Polimeni took the mound. The effectiveness of junior Brian Cranston during the game’s first five innings paved the way for Polimeni to pitch the game’s final inning. And like Tedesco, Polimeni seized the opportunity on his special day. Polimeni made quick work of the Lakers’ batters with two strikeouts and stopped a grounder before throwing to first for the game’s final out. Cranston (first through fifth innings), Kevin Morgan (sixth inning) and Polimeni (seventh inning) combined for 5 strikeouts and allowed just one walk.
“Brian Cranston did a nice job today,” Roof said. “In baseball, you know it all starts on the mound and Brian did an outstanding job today.”
As for inserting an entirely different lineup to go along with a new pitcher in the game’s sixth inning, it was a rare experience for Roof.
Roof and his team are no doubt ready to get going on Monday for their first round state tournament game against the Rahway Indians.
“Our focus is on the state tournament,” Roof said. “Going into next week, we want to extend next week. We’ve got to keep it going.”