BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston baseball team playing before an appreciative home crowd on Senior Day defeated cross county opponent Parsippany 6-3 yesterday afternoon in Berkeley Heights.

Nick Cocchia, who has been the work horse of the staff this season, went six innings for his 5th win of the season as the Highlanders raised their record to 17-8. Drew Compton (2-for-3) and Brian Cranston(1-for-2) both came up with big hits after Parsippany had tied the game in the the 5th inning.

The Highlanders will begin NJSIAA State tournament play on Monday after receiving the 3 seed in North Jersey Section II Group 3 as they host 13 seeded Barringer High School, game time 4 p.m.

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After playing four years under Coach Roof and his staff,  five senior players Captains Brian CranstonJosh Katz, and  Matt Bruno, along teammates Brendan Lake, and Lucas Vitollo will be the first players to leave GL with a NJ State Championship and a Union County Title under their belt.

Coach Chris Roof credits his senior players for helping to turn the season around for his young team before the County Tournament. "The seniors are really leading and that’s the difference," said Roof. "They knew about the attitude before this tournament. They bought in -- they understand what it is to wear this uniform and how they are supposed to act -- from our senior captains."

After a scoreless first inning, the Highlanders got back to back doubles to open the second inning with first Tyler McCulloch (2-for-3) and then Bruno (2-for-3) driving McCulloch in. Cranston laid down a sac bunt moving Bruno to third with one out bringing up Jace Tweeten who ripped a single into centerfield for a 2-0 GL lead. The chance for a big inning ended when the Parsippany center fielder made a diving catch and came up throwing doubling Tweeten off second base.

Cocchia worked out of minor trouble in the third with GL shortstop Vin Doren and second baseman Cranston turning a nice double play to end the inning. The Highlanders tacked on a run n their half of the third when Will Jennings singled, stole second base, and was knocked in on a sharp single by Cocchia.

Leading 3 -0, the RedHawks got to Cocchia in the top of the fifth scoring three to tie the game. After a couple of infield singles, Cocchia got two big outs and looked like he would escape without any damage. Unfortunately, the next hitter took an 0-2 pitch into right field for a run scoring single which was then followed by a two run triple knotting the score at three apiece.

The Highlanders quickly regained the lead in their half of the 5th when Katz led off with a single, stole second and third, and scored on a Compton single up the middle through a drawn in RedHawk infield putting GL up 4-3 after five innings of play.

The GL lead didn’t appear that it would last too long after Cocchia yielded a leadoff double, followed by a sacrifice bunt putting the tying run on third with just one out. However, Cocchia struck out the next two batters.

The home half of the sixth again saw McCulloch and Bruno put up back to back hits which resulted in a pitching change for Parsippany. Cranston then came through with a RBI single scoring both Bruno and McCulloch after the left fielder misplayed the ball. Sean Savage relieved Cocchia and put the RedHawks down in order to close out the 6-3 victory.

The Highlanders will close out the regular season on Friday afternoon away against Mountain Lakes. Coach Roof will be lining up his pitching as his squad looks to defend their 2015 State Championship next week beginning on Monday afternoon. 

This season Gov. Livingston baseball has been reclassified  to Group 3 after playing in Group 2 last year. The Highlanders received the third seed behind Mendham (1) and Sommerville(2)  and one spot above conference rival Cranford(4).