BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - In the annual Highlander Classic Tournament Championship Game, the Governor Livingston Highlanders baseball team defeated Madison Dodgers, 3-1. The Highlanders scored all three runs in the fourth and fifth innings and were aided by a complete game from Brian Cranston, who won tournament MVP honors.
Cranston capped his tournament by allowing just 5 hits and striking out 3 batters to go along with his RBI groundout in the fifth. “Today was a big day for us in terms of moving forward,” Cranston said. “We have a big week ahead of us. So today was good momentum to bring us into next week.”
Sunday’s game didn’t feature much action in the first three innings as both teams fed off of solid pitching. Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof certainly sounded pleased with his team’s defensive effort. “We owed it to our seniors to get this win,” Roof said. “I think defensively we did a great job. Our defensive coach, Danny Mondelli (who’s also a GL graduate), has been doing great things for this team and it showed today.”
Josh Katz’s single in the bottom of the fourth got things rolling offensively for GL. Katz stole second base a short time later and advanced to third thanks to a Dan Baroff single. After Will Jennings walked, Baroff advanced to second and with the bases loaded all of a sudden, Drew Compton hit a sacrifice fly to score Katz. With the score 1-0 and runners still on second and third, the Dodgers executed a double play to end the inning.
As for Cranston, the senior’s only hiccup came at the top of the fifth inning when he surrendered his only run of the day. Cranston remained unfazed by the run and ended the inning shortly after. “Cranny doesn’t feel the pressure on the mound,” Roof said. “We always tell him we just need him to throw strikes and hit his spots, which he does.”
Brendan Lake got things going in the bottom of the fifth with a double into centerfield. DJ Gonnelli’s bunt shortly after sent Lake to third. Jace Tweeten then hit a single. Cranston’s full count hit to short stop brought a runner home to give the Highlanders a 2-1 lead. After stealing third, Tweeten would go onto score off an error as the Highlanders suddenly had a 3-1 lead. Tweeten’s run would be the last of the game as Cranston and the Highlanders defense held steady.
After a rough start to the season with two consecutive rain delays and a 17-7 loss to Scotch Plains, the Highlanders are back to their winning ways.
“We will take being 3-1,” Roof said. “After the Scotch Plains game, who were a really good team, we had some big talks about where we need to be as a team, both as a team and as individuals of this team -- the coaches the captains -- we probably had the best practices of the year the past couple of days going into the game on Friday against Elizabeth.”
GL will look to feed off its winning momentum going into this week's loaded schedule. Up next, GL will play at Jonathan Dayton on Tuesday, host Cranford on Wednesday and will travel to Union Catholic on Thursday.