BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Victor Candeloro and Steve Duda combined to pitch seven innings of two-run baseball, as the Highlanders used a big second inning to topple New Providence, 3-2, in the second game of the Gov. Livingston Highlander Classic.
After a scoreless first inning, New Providence struck first blood as shortstop Marc Giacalone punched a single to left field, scoring outfielder Alex Shema to give the Pioneers an early 1-0 lead.
However, things unraveled for the Pioneers as they committed three errors and gave up three hits in the bottom half of that inning, including big RBI singles by Ethan Frohman and Nick Disarno, putting the Highlanders in front by a score of 3-1.
“Timely hitting in big spots were key that inning,” GL head coach Chris Roof said. “When we had their pitcher (David Gelormini) down for the count, we were able to take advantage. Otherwise he pitched a great game and we were lucky to come out with a one-run victory.”
The Pioneers seemed to threaten every inning thereafter, but they could never capitalize on their scoring chances. In total, they left 12 men on base throughout the game.
“We just didn’t have it in the right situations,” Pioneer head coach Chris Brodeur said. “We got on base but we just couldn’t get it done. They played good defense and got timely pitching.”
Things looked like they would get out of hand in the bottom of the third as GL loaded the bases with nobody out, but Gelormini struck out John Tedesco for the first out, then flashed some leather as the Pioneer infield turned a 1-2-3 double play to end the Highlander threat.
Gelormini was flawless throughout the rest of the game, striking out five through six innings.
“It was really big how he (Gelormini) was able to keep us in the game after the second inning,” Giacalone, who reached base three times and played stellar defense throughout, said. “We made a few errors that inning, but he really bounced back and gave us a chance.”
“Dave comes into every start ready,” Brodeur said. “He usually delivers and today was no different.”
The Pioneers cut their deficit in half as third baseman Bryan Sherman grounded a double down the left field line, driving in Jeff Doran, but they could not add to their tally that frame.
With one last chance to tie or win the game, the Pioneers needed to put up at least one run to prolong the game in the top of the seventh.
With reliever Duda, who was coming off an inning where he stranded three Pioneer base runners, in the game, the Highlanders slammed the door, ending the hopes of a New Providence comeback.
After a leadoff single by second baseman Matt McCann, catcher Barron Natelli gunned down McCann as he tried to swipe second base for the first out. Gelormini followed with a double, but Duda induced two fly balls to clinch the victory for the Highlanders.
“That’s why he’s the first guy out of the bullpen,” Roof said. “He did a great job and we have a lot of confidence in him. He did exactly what we needed him to do in a tight spot.”
With the loss, the Pioneers drop to 1-2 on the season, and will take on Oratory Prep at Paul Miller Field on Tuesday, while the Highlanders (3-0) will travel to Linden to take on the Tigers.