BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston's senior catcher delivered arguably the biggest clutch hit in the history of Highlander baseball with the Central Jersey, Group II Championship on the line he connected for a bases clearing walk off double securing the state sectional title. It was a moment that every kid who ever played baseball dreams of: championship game,team down by a couple of runs, bases loaded, two outs, then coming through with the game winning hit and being mobbed by your teammates.
Baroff has seen pressure situations before, but definitely not to this magnitude. "That moment was probably one of the most pressured situations for me because the season was on the line with two outs and the bases loaded," said Baroff. "As a kid, you dream of playing in this type of situation and being the hero and I guess I was lucky enough to have that play out and win the game for my team."
Baroff made that dream come true as he stroked an opposite field double which drove in the three runs to give Gov. Livingston a thrilling 6-5 win over South Plainfield and another state title. For coming through for his team and his school Dan Baroff has been named the Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week.
Below are comments from Dan regarding his past, present and future:
TAPinto: What was going through your head when you stepped up with the season
on the line?
Dan: At that point I was just trying to relax and tune out all of the outside distractions. This was definitely one of the most important at bats in my life and I was trying to slow everything down and take the at bat pitch by pitch. I was also confident that our season wasn't going to end at that moment and as a captain, I wanted to make sure that I gave my team the best chance to keep the season alive.
TAPinto: How much did it personally mean to you and the team to claim the sectional championship?
Dan: The way in which we won the game was truly special. As a team, we showed our resilience and ability to handle adversity and winning the game was an experience that will never be forgotten.
TAPinto: What was going on in the dugout as the team was down to their final 3 outs?
Dan: Before we got into the dugout in the bottom of the 7th, the captains and I reminded the team to stay positive until the last out. I give a lot of credit to the players in the dugout not only during this game
but all year because their endless support has propelled us to where we are in the season today. Our team never lost its confidence even when we were down three runs in the 7th and their support definitely helped us to win the game.
TAPinto: Did you get crushed under the dog pile when your teammates ran out of the dugout?
Dan: Yes, when I was at second base I saw my whole team running out to me and at that moment I knew I would get crushed. I was under everyone for a solid minute and it was tough but hugging all my teammates and getting tackled down after that win was an amazing feeling.
TAPinto: What has Highlander baseball meant to you and what will you remember
the most about your time under Coach Roof?
Dan: In my time playing for Highlander baseball, I have had many amazing coaches that have all left memorable impacts on my experiences. Coach Roof has not only helped me grow as a player but as a person as well. He truly cares about the personal development of all of his players and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play under him. He was also very helpful during my college recruitment process and helped me get into contact with many different coaches. The experiences I have had during baseball at GL are ones that I will forever cherish.
TAPinto: Why did you become a catcher?
Dan: Catching was sort of forced upon me when I was younger. When I played travel baseball in elementary school I originally played outfield and third base but my team needed a catcher and my coach stuck me behind the plate to see how I could play the position. Ever since then, I have been catching all my life.
TAPinto: How difficult was it to give up playing other sports to just concentrate on baseball?
Dan: Growing up I always played baseball and basketball and equally enjoyed playing both sports. After playing basketball my freshman year, I realized that I wanted to take baseball more seriously. This was a tough decision to make because I had always loved playing basketball but I knew that baseball was the sport that I wanted to pursue in college.
TAPinto: Who had the greatest influence on you both athletically and academically?
Dan: Definitely my parents. Since the beginning, they have always been there to support me and guide me both athletically and academically. When I was younger, it was my dad who first introduced to baseball when he bought me a whiffle ball bat and ball and started to teach the mechanics of the sport. Academically, my mom is always providing me with positivity and confidence and both of my parents have been the most important factors that have helped me to strive in both areas in my life.
TAPinto: Why did you choose Franklin and Marshall to continue your athletic and academic career?
Dan: F&M served as the perfect fit for me both academically and athletically. I was approached by some division 1 schools for baseball but during the process I realized I did not want to make that
commitment in college. Franklin and Marshall is a division 3 school with very good academics and I really enjoy all aspects of the school. I also did not want to attend a large school and the population of
students at F&M was perfect for me. The distance was another factor for me when choosing colleges and I enjoyed the fact that it is 2.5 hours away from home.
TAPinto: How do you feel leaving GL athletics?
Dan: I have really enjoyed my time with GL athletics and it is definitely going to be hard leaving it. I have learned many lessons while playing at GL and I have had the most amazing coaches in my experiences.
TAPinto: Has this season met your expectations so far?
Dan: So far, this season is on its way to meeting the team's expectations. We did really well during the season and have been successful so far in the state tournament. We are hoping to make it down to Tom's River for the state final and as a team, we are positive that will be able to do so.
Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!