NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence baseball team scratched out a run in the home half of the seventh inning to defeat neighborhood rival Gov. Livingston 6-5, Thursday afternoon in New Providence.
The winning run came across when Tyler DeGeorge hit a slow roller down the third base line with two outs and the bases loaded for an infield single.
As the winning run crossed the plate DeGeorge was mobbed by his teammates at first base as they celebrated their biggest victory of the season, raising their record to 4-5.
For the Highlanders who battled back from an early 3 run deficit it was a day of frustration that ended with their second loss in a row dropping their record to 8-4.
In the top of the first behind back to back singles by Jace Tweeten and Drew Compton, GL threatened with runners now on second and third and one out. New Providence starter Peter House (5 innings,9 hits,4 k)) then settled down striking out the next two batters to close out the inning ending the scoring threat.
The bottom half of inning was the first bad luck one for GL starter Sean Savage (6 2/3) who went the distance for the Highlanders The Pioneers leadoff hitter Jason DiBenedetto reached base on an infield single and Will Faucher followed with a walk. A misplayed double play ball loaded the bases with no outs. Savage facing clean up hitter Max Rivkees surrendered a hard hit single into center field was played into a bases clearing hit by the GL defense. Savage like his opposing pitcher House, was able to settle down getting the next 2 outs with GL now trailing 3-0.
After a scoreless second inning, the Highlanders were able to break through scoring 2 runs in the third. Tweeten singled for his second hit and stole second with 2 outs. Dan Baroff then sharply singled up the middle scoring Tweeten with the Highlanders first run. Nick Cocchia who had his third consecutive 3 hit game then crushed a ball into right center for a triple driving in Baroff to bring GL to within one at 3-2.
Meanwhile, Savage did not surrender another hit over the next three innings,and House worked out of minor trouble until the top of the 5th inning. Compton took House’s first pitch of the inning deep into left center for a double. Baroff followed with a single putting runners on the corners. Again, lefty Cocchia came through with a sharp single into right field scoring Compton tying the game at 3 apiece. Will Jennings the laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt moving the runners up to second and third. House then punched out the next batter for the second out of the inning. GL sophomore Tyler McCulloch (3 hits) playing in his first varsity game then grounded a single through the right side to put GL up 5 -3.
Now, after GL regained the momentum of the game, Pioneer Tommy Jankowski led off the fifth with a grounder to short which took a bad hop over shortstop Vin Doren’s shoulder for a base hit. Savage got the next hitter but Will Faucher then blooped a hit into short left putting runners on second and third. Again, a frustrated Savage got the next hitter for out number 2. Rivkees who cleared the bases in the first inning then ripped a fastball down the left field line for a double scoring both runners and tying the game at 5 and New Providence had a new life with the momentum now back in their favor .
The top of the sixth saw Pioneer starter House yield to junior lefty Michael Magnani who walked the first batter of the inning Josh Katz Tweeten then singled for his third hit of the game and the Highlanders were in business with runners on first and second, no outs. Compton then hit a long fly that was tracked down in center for the first out. Baroff stepped in and took the first pitch as the runners executed a double steal placing both Katz and Tweeten in scoring position. Baroff then ripped a line drive which was snared by the second baseman who flipped the ball to short for an inning ending double play frustrating the Highlanders once again.
Savage was able to hold the Pioneers scoreless in the bottom of the sixth stranding a runner on third. The top of the seventh brought Faucher to the mound for New Providence and after GL put 2 base runners on with 2 outs, Faucher then got the next batter on a strike out to end the inning.
Highlander Coach Chris Roof showing complete confidence in his pitcher sent Savage out for the seventh inning looking to push the Highlanders into extra innings. After getting the first out winning pitcher Faucher drew a walk. Savage got the next hitter for the second out bringing up Rivkees who was the Pioneer hitting star of the day. Rivkees hit a hard grounder up the middle which took another high hop off the hard infield into center field, frustrating Savage once again. With runners on first and second senior lefty Scott Harvey had a nice battle with Savage and came away with a walk loading the bases.
Pioneer DeGeorge who had entered the game in the top of the the inning found himself at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Savage came inside with a 1-0 pitch which DeGeorge got on top of and grounded slowly down the third baseline.
GL third baseman Compton had only one play as the ball rolled up the third baseline. He fielded the ball and dove back to the bag hoping to force the runner coming from second, but he was a step to late. As the Ump called the runner safe at third, Faucher crossed the plate with the winning run and DeGeorge was tackled by his teammates at first base celebrating the big win.
Savage went the distance for GL, scattering 8 hits striking out 6 in a gutsy effort. It looks like Coach Roof may have found another bat in soph McCulloch who along with Cocchia rapped out 3 hits each. It was the second heartbreaker this week GL lost in the the seventh inning.Games like this should help this young Highlander team mature as the season progresses. The Highlanders will look to get back in the win column when they take on Roselle Catholic at home, Saturday 11 a.m., in the first round of the Union County Tournament.
Rivkees, who was 3-for-4 with 5 RBI will lead the Pioneers into their first round Union County Game on Saturday at 10 a.m. in New Providence against Union Catholic HS.
This big cross conference win should have the Pioneers feeling confident as they look to challenge for the UCC-Mountain Division title and advance in the Union County Tournament.