CLARK, NJ- The Johnson Crusaders (7-0) faced off against the Governor Livingston Highlanders (6-1) and, with timely hitting, capitalized on scoring chances and won the game Thursday afternoon in Clark. They improve to a record of 8-0 in 2015. The final score of the game was 9-2.
Sophomore Gianna Randazza pitched a complete game for the Crusaders, recording five strikeouts while giving up two runs on five hits.
She also got the offense going in the bottom of the third inning when, with two runners on base and one out, Randazza smacked a three-run home run into deep left field, giving ALJ a 3-0 lead.
“Definitely teamwork. We all worked as a team, not just one individual player at any point of the game,” Randazza said. “We all executed as a team very well.”
The Crusaders extended their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when senior Kristen Meagher hit an RBI double into right-center field, to make it 4-0.
The Highlanders would respond in the top of the sixth inning to try and cut the lead down.
Sophomore Katie Debbie got Governor Livingston on the board with an RBI single. Senior Stephanie Bade hit the ball deep to right field for an RBI double that made it 4-2.
“The first thing they’ve got to understand is that 9-2 is not indicative of what Governor Livingston is. GL’s very good, their pitcher pitches real well. A couple of plays either way, it’s a 3-2, 4-2 game, or maybe worse," Johnson head coach Mike Mancino said. "They had their opportunities to take the lead. What we should take away from this is that GL is a very formidable opponent.”
After Johnson sophomore Mia Lancellotti and senior Lauren Margel got on base, senior Cathryn Schlaeger made a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. It all worked out effectively when, next-up, junior Gabby Zatko connected with a two-run single to add two insurance runs, and the Crusaders made it 6-2.
Senior Stephanie Donah made it 7-2 with an RBI single, and Meagher would record a two-run double, to bring it to 9-2 Crusaders.
“We really just needed to come out and hit the ball and play great defense, and we needed to click as a team altogether,” Donah said.
The Highlanders had a couple of chances early on to score runs, and were unable to successfully connect on those opportunities.
“At the end, it did get away from us for a couple of reasons, but I think we showed that we’re not going to hand over a potential county title, or reaching deep in the state tournament or our section, we’re not just going to hand things over to them,” Governor Livingston head coach Mike Roof said.
In the top of the third inning, GL had runners on second and third base, but could not score any runs.
The top of the fourth inning was the second major chance the Highlanders had, with runners on second and third base, and one out. After a strikeout and groundout, they left two more key runners on base.
“We showed that we can hit off this kid [Gianna Randazza], she’s an all-around player. We showed that we can get some kids out and put the ball in play and make some things difficult for them,” Roof added. “Unfortunately, we created some situations for ourselves, which led to some extra outs for them, that led them to have bigger innings. What I’ve talked about to the girls is that we have to do a better job of handling the moment, and for some of us, it was a little bit difficult today.”
Next up, the Johnson Crusaders (8-0) play a doubleheader Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. in Delaware against Delmar High School and Laurel High School. The Governor Livingston Highlanders (6-2) play the Summit Hilltoppers at home Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.