BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston’s baseball and softball teams advanced in the NJSIAA state playoffs as they both recorded impressive 10 run 5 inning victories yesterday afternoon. The No. 2 seeded Lady Highlanders (23-2) pounded out 10 runs on 11 hits for a 10-0 win over Cranford to move on to the semi-finals of the North Jersey II, Group 3 and will square off against No. 3 seed South Plainfield. The top seeded Highlander baseball team (23-3) scored 12 runs on 14 hits to defeat Holmdel 12-2 and advanced to the quarter-finals of the Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional and will face Raritan Wednesday afternoon in Berkeley Heights.
Softball: Lady Highlanders 10 Cranford 0
The Lady Highlanders jumped on Cranford scoring four first inning runs and rode another dominating pitching performance from Alana Namit en route to a 10-0 quarter-final win over the Cougars. Namit also delivered the games knockout blow in the third inning when she hit a grand slam to put Gov. Livingston up by 10 runs. The win was the teams 21st in a row and raised their season mark to 23-2.
"How can you not be proud of this group of kids," said Gov. Livingston head coach Mike Roof. "These kids have won 21 games in a row -- they've done enough, they've created enough positive situations to outweigh the negative.-- We have been in pressure situations and handled all those testing moments."
After Namit put down Cranford in the 1st inning the Highlanders got things going by scoring four times in their half of the inning. Table setters Jaime Belfer (2-4,3R ) and Madison Phillips(3-3, 3R) who both scored three times in the contest got things going as they worked their way on base against Cranford starter Brenna Dolan to lead off the game. Nicole Trezza (1-3,2 RBI) and Katie Debbie (2-3,2 RBI) both continued their clutch hitting driving in two runs apiece and the Lady Highlanders had all the runs they needed after one inning of play. Debbie delivering the game's first big hit when she tripled in the first.
Gov. Livingston took advantage of some sloppy play by Cranford in the second inning and scored two more times to push their lead to six zip. Cranford managed their only threat of the game as Liz Casazza blooped a single into centerfield to open the third and reached third base as a diving Belfer could not come up with the catch. However Namit left Casazza on third as she struck out the next batter and then made a great play as she knocked down a hard line drive hit right at her, holding the runner and playing it over to first for the out. A ground out to end the inning kept Cranford scoreless.
Namit then gave the Lady Highlanders exactly what they were looking for when she cracked a grand slam scoring Janey Morabito (1-3), Belfer, and Phillips upping the lead to the 10 run differential they needed to end the game after five innings of play. She then pitched two scoreless frames to end the game and Cranford's season.
Namit who recorded the 400th strike out of her career against Westfield last Saturday struck out three, walked one and yielded only two hits over her five innings of work in picking up her 13th win of the season. She struggled a bit with her pitches against Cranford and credits her teammates for having her back."I really relied on my team to back me up today -- which they did," said Namit, "They did everything they could and I couldn't have asked for anymore."
At the end of the day, softball is the game of who make the least amount of errors -- "and that is what happened today. Let's hope we keep this pace against South Plainfield and keep moving on," said Namit.
The second seeded Lady Highlanders will now face the third seed Lady Tigers of South Plainfield. The date and time of the game is pending due to the unsettled weather expected later this week.
Baseball: Gov. Livingston 12 Holmdel 2
Gov. Livingston and starter Sean Savage fought back from an early two run deficit scoring 12 unanswered runs to capture a five inning 10 run-rule victory over Holmdel in a game played at Jim Hynes Stadium on the campus of Kean University Tuesday afternoon. Savage (5-0) went five innings (4K, 1ER) giving up just three hits as he picked up his fifth win of the season. After a two out first inning error allowed Holmdel to take an early two run lead, Savage shut the door on the Hornets the rest of the way. Dan Baroff (3-4, 2 RBI) and Drew Compton (2-3,2RBI) led a 14 hit Highlander against three Holmdel pitchers to give Savage all the support he needed. The win raised the Highlanders season mark to 23-3 as they now turn their attention to the Raritan Rockets (16-6) who defeated Johnson 6-0 on Wednesday in Clark.
Holmdel starter Alex DiBona took the mound against the heavily favored Highlanders and got two quick outs before walking Stephen Reid on a full count. The walk proved to be costly as Baroff, Compton and Nick Cocchia ripped consecutive doubles bringing in three runs to put the Highlanders up 3-2. Gov. Livingston picked up another run in the second again scoring after DiBona put down the two first hitters of the inning. Dan Serretti (2-4,3B) tripled in Tyler McCulloch (2-4) who doubled, giving Savage a bit of breathing room with a 4-2 lead.
Starters Savage and DiBona settled in over the next two innings as both were aided by some nice defense. Savage got a big lift as third baseman Compton and Serretti both made great plays taking hits away from the Hornets. DiBona got some solid outfield play as Compton and Cocchia both drove balls deep into the outfield that were tracked down for outs.
The Highlanders scored 8 times in the fifth to end the game. After DiBona loaded the bases with no outs Compton greeted reliever Brandon Saghafi with a two run single up the middle. DJ Gonnelli (1-3,2 RBI) Vin Doren (1-3,RBI) and Tyler McCulloch all had RBI base hits sandwiched around a couple of walks which had kept the bases loaded. With two outs Baroff was able to knock in Doren with the 8th run of the inning which gave the Highlanders the 10 run differential they needed to end the game.
Gov. Livingston will now face a dangerous Raritan team at home on Wednesday in a game that was moved up due to the weather forecast for later in in the week. The Rockets last visited the Heights in 2011 when the Highlanders defeated them 7-3 in the opening round of the playoffs. Junior Zach Johnston is expected to take the mound for Raritan with the Highlanders sending out either ace Nick Cocchia (7-0) or Vin Doren (5-0) to battle the Rockets. First pitch 4 pm.