BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The streaking top seeded Gov. Livingston baseball and softball teams both took care of business with quick lopsided victories in the first round of the Union County Tournament Saturday afternoon in Berkeley Heights.
The defending Union County baseball champs pounded Plainfield 16-1 for their 13th straight win, while the Lady Highlanders extended their own impressive win to streak to 10 as they knocked out Linden 11-1 in six innings. Play in the tournament will resume on Wednesday with the boys taking on 9th seed Johnson and the Lady Highlanders facing 8th seed Summit in Berkeley Heights.
The teams' hot streak has not only created a buzz with the student body and the Highlander faithful, but has caught the attention of the baseball pollsters. Gov. Livingston baseball is currently No. 2 in New Jersey Top 20 by New Jersey Advance Media, #3 in the MSG Varsity TRI-STATE TOP 20 and, #1 in the Courier News Baseball top 10.
The Lady Highlanders also have drawn some attention. After knocking off No. 3 ranked Watchung Hills and No. 7 ranked Johnson in the same week, they cracked the New Jersey Advance Media Softball TOP 20, currently sitting at 18th and climbing.They also will be looking to get into the County championship game for the 8th consecutive year after receiving the top seed earlier in the week.
UCT Baseball: Gov. Livingston 16 Plainfield 1
Vin Doren (4-0) pitched a three hitter and DJ Gonnelli (2-2,4 rbi) and Tyler McCulloch (3-3,3 rbi) both hit booming run scoring doubles leading the offensive attack which produced 16 hits in the run shortened 16-1 win over the visiting 16th seed Plainfield Cardinals. The Highlanders plated six first inning runs as six of the first seven batters singled to take the lead back after the Cardinals had scored an unearned run to open the game. The win capped a solid week of play, which included two conference victories as Gov. Livingston now holds a two game in the standings of the UCC-Watchung division.
Plainfield who came into the contest with a modest two game win streak after scoring 14 and 13 runs in those games. Toran Smith (2-2) took a 3-2 offering from Doren into the left field corner for a one out double and he came around to score the games first run on a throwing error.
The Highlanders wasted no time against Smith who took the mound for the Cardinals. Danny Serretti (1-2), Nick Cocchia (2-3),Drew Compton (2-3) and Stephen Reid (2-3) all lined hard singles as the Highlanders took back the lead at 2-1. Unfortunately for Smith the hit barrage did not end as McCulloch and Gonnelli lined run scoring singles as the lead ballooned to 6-1 after one inning of play.
Smith managed to put the Highlanders down in order in the second as did Doren in the top half of the inning. However, Smith’s comfort on the mound was short-lived as Gov. Livingston scored six more times in the third. Gonnelli provided the big hit as he sent a rising line drive high off the left field net for a two run double. Cocchia and Compton followed with back to back run scoring doubles and the rout was on.
With Doren dominating on the mound and a 12-1 lead, Coach Roof got a chance to do some subbing in the 4th inning. Senior Thomas Barbera ignited his bench when he took 1-1 pitch into right field for a run scoring base hit.
Liam Hulburt relieved Doren and struck out the side in the 5th to end the game. Doren claimed his fourth victory of the season after throwing just 44 pitches. It was his 10th career win as a Highlander.
Gov. Livingston will have a busy week with four straight games to open the week. They face Elizabeth at home on Monday, Madison at Drew University on Tuesday, before they return to UCC tourney action on Wednesday against Johnson. They finish with Elizabeth on the road on Thursday. If they get by Johnson, they will play again on Saturday in the semis of the UC Tournament,
UCT Softball: Gov. Livingston 11 Linden 1
Madison Phillips (3-0) scattered six hits over six innings yielding only one unearned run as the Lady Highlanders' lineup produced 11 runs on 12 hits to defeat the Linden Tigers 11-1 and advance in the Union County tournament.
Katie Debbie (2-3) drove in three runs with two base hits and Katie Hughes (1-3,2b) and Phillips (2-4,3b) produced run scoring extra base hits to pace the offense. Gov. Livingston (12-2) will now square off with Summit in the quarter- finals on Wednesday in Berkeley Heights.
The Lady Highlanders managed to push runs across in five of the six innings of the game as they took advantage of six Linden errors to score in double digits for the fifth time this season. Yesterday's box score reflects the balance in this potent Lady Highlander lineup with five players having multiple hit games. Jaime Belfer, like she has done all season, with a team leading 26 hits and 18 runs scored, got things going early in the game. Alanna Namit who is having another strong season on the mound and at the plate got the scoring going with an RBI single.
Aislinn O Keefe with two hits and Nicole Trezza who scored three times helped the Highlanders pad their lead before Phillips delivered the game's big hit with her run scoring triple.
The Lady Highlanders have a big conference game with Johnson on Tuesday, Summit in the county game on Wednesday and Roselle Park on Thursday. They are fortunate to have a quality pitching staff who not only can eat up innings but also produce at the plate. Namit (7-2), Phillips(3-0) and Christine Pacheco (2-0) are all position players batting over .400 when not on mound.