Cocchia, Doren Continue Highlander Pitching Dominance, Win Streak Stretches to 11 Games

Nick Cocchia Credits: Anne Hardina
Vin Doren Credits: Anne Hardina
Ryan Monroy Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina
Credits: Anne Hardina

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston baseball team used outstanding pitching performances from senior right hander Vinny Doren and southpaw Nick Cocchia to extend their winning streak to 11 consecutive games and secure the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Union County Tournament. Doren (3-0) took the mound on Sunday afternoon against Colonia in the Autism Awareness Challenge and threw six strong innings of four hit balls in the 8-2 Highlanders win. On Monday in Berkeley Heights, Cocchia (3-0) faced conference foe Scotch Plains-Fanwood and fired a two hit complete game 4-0 shutout. Cocchia completely overpowered a potent Raider lineup, striking out 12 while yielding two harmless base hits. The Highlanders at 11-0 are the only undefeated team in Union County and now hold a two game lead in the UCC- Watchung division. Gov. Livingston, the defending Union County champs, were given the top seed in the upcoming 2017 Union County Tournament on Monday night.

 Gov. Livingston 4 Scotch Plains-Fanwood 0

Scotch Plains-Fanwood traveled up to Heights looking to hand Gov. Livingston their first loss of the season and for a share of first place in UCC-Watchung division. The two teams, who were meeting for the first time since Gov. Livingston defeated SPF 3-2 in the 2016 Union County Tournament finals, will play again on Thursday in Scotch Plains due to a previous rainout. Yesterday's game presented an interesting pitching matchup with Gov. Livingston senior ace Nick Cocchia rested and ready to go, while SPF handed the ball to sophomore left hander Danny Wilkinson, who has emerged as a quality starter in his second year of varsity action.

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 After the Raiders leadoff man Jake Canavan scratched out an infield single to open the game it quickly became apparent that Cocchia was in command of his pitches. As Canavan aggressively stole second and third base, Cocchia proceeded to strike out the side on 12 pitches. Canavan would be the only Raider to reach third base in the game.

Scotch Plains Wiilkinson, who was coming off a very good 6 inning 9 strikeout outing against Bridgewater, took the mound to face a Highlander lineup averaging just under 10 runs a game. Leadoff hitter Cocchia greeted Wilkinson with a sharp opposite field single and Dan Serretti worked a walk to put runners on first and second as the Highlanders mounted an early threat against the young lefty. Drew Compton then lined a 2-1 pitch to shortstop Peter Warren who snagged it and doubled off the runner at first. Wilkinson looked like he may get out of the inning when he got ahead of clean up man Dan Baroff, but Baroff grounded a 1-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single giving the Highlanders a 1-0 lead.

Gov. Livingston was able to add two more first inning runs as the Scotch Plains defense misplayed a ball which proved to be very costly. Stephen Reid followed Baroff’s single with a double into the right field gap putting runners on second and third with 2 outs. Wilkinson appeared to get Will Jennings on a ground out but the ball was booted and 2 runs scored pushing the lead to 3-0.

The second inning looked very similar for both pitchers. Cocchia closed out the second inning with two more strikeouts, giving him 5 through two innings of play. Unfortunately for SPF and Wilkinson, the Raider defense committed another error which allowed Vin Doren who walked to score for a 4-0 Highlander lead which would never be challenged.

Cocchia then methodically mowed down the Raider lineup over the next five innings. His dominance was evident as he struck out 10 different batters in the Raider lineup. The only other blemish was a fourth inning soft line drive single by Peter Warren for the only Raider hit that reached the outfield. Cocchia (3-0) won his third conference game and has pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings. He has given up only two runs in 20 innings of work this season.

Wilkinson for his second six inning start in a row certainly pitched well enough to win giving up only one earned run on four hits. The Highlanders, especially Compton, hit some hard balls against him but every time he needed a big out he managed to get one.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood drops to 6-6 and 3-2 in the conference. They will be the third seed in the upcoming Union County Tournament. Expect Raider ace Timmy Geissel (2-1) to take the mound on Thursday in Scotch Plains looking to pin that first loss on the Highlanders. In between their next meeting both teams have Tuesday road conference games: Gov. Livingston takes on Union and SPF faces Westfield. 

Gov. Livingston 8 Colonia 2

The Gov. Livingston baseball team participating in the 10th annual Autism Awareness Challenge defeated Colonia 8-2 at North Brunswick Community Park on Sunday afternoon. Vinny Doren (3-0) pitched six innings, allowing only two runs on four hits. Doren has given up just two runs in his 13 innings of work this season. The win was the Highlanders 10th straight and Doren's third on the season.

The visiting Highlanders were able to get on the board after the Patriots infield allowed the game's first two batters to reach on errors and a steal of home by Nick Cocchia put Gov. Livingston up 1-0. Colonia starter Frank Lehman managed to limit the damage when he struck out the side to close out the inning.

The Highlanders got to Lehman in the scoring five times. Doren opened the inning with a walk and was sacrificed over to second by Nick Cocchia. Jace Tweeten who was running for Doren promptly stole third and score when Dan Serretti did some nice hitting grounding a ball to the right side easily scoring Tweeten Drew Compton (2-3) started a two out rally with a sharp single up the middle. After yielding a walk Lehman gave up a run scoring single to Stephen Reid and a two run double to Will Jennings. The Highlanders plated another on an error and led 6-0.

The Patriots did managed to touchup Doren for a couple of runs in the bottom of the fourth when they strung together three hits to close to within 7-2. Doren then shut the door as he cruised through the fifth and six innings.

The Highlanders played some nice small ball in the top of the seventh to score their last run of the game. DJ Gonnelli (1-3) got things going when he singled with one out. Tweeten again entered the game this time running for Gonnelli, advanced to third on two passed balls. Conor Fletcher pinch hitting for Doren worked a nice walk putting runners on the corners. Highlander Coach Roof then called for the suicide squeeze which Nick Cocchia executed to perfection when he laid down the run scoring sacrifice bunt.

Doren was lifted after throwing 73 pitches in his six innings on the mound. Ryan Monroy came in to lock down the win and got three quick outs (2 SO) to end the game.

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