BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- Governor Livingston High School senior Sean Savage dazzled on the mound, throwing a one-hitter while his teammates dominated at the plate to lead the Highlanders past the Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders by a final score of 10-0 Tuesday afternoon in Berkeley Heights.
Savage went through the Johnson lineup, not allowing a base runner until he walked Johnson freshman Max Carmino with one out in the top of the third inning.
“The defense behind me [was great],” Savage said. “I know I could throw the ball anywhere if they put it in play. There’s a great chance any of the nine guys behind me are going to make a play.”
Savage recorded four strikeouts, losing his no-hit bid in the top of the fourth inning with two outs, with a double coming from Johnson senior Brendan Stanzione.
“Sean Savage was the key,” Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof said. “He threw strikes, different pitches and he kept a good swinging team to the minimum. The four-run first was huge for us.”
“The kids came ready to play. It’s high school baseball, we won 15 games in a row, anything can happen. Unfortunately, it happened in the county tournament,” Roof added, referring to the Highlanders’ 9-5 loss to Johnson on May 3 in the Union County Tournament Quarterfinals. “Our kids were ready to go.”
The Governor Livingston lineup went to work in the bottom of the first inning, jumping on Johnson freshman Patrick Grady. Governor Livingston sophomore Stephen Reid doubled on a deep fly ball, scoring junior Tyler McCulloch to give the Highlanders a 1-0 lead. The offensive drive continued two batters later.
Junior D.J. Gonnelli drove in a run with a double of his own, scoring Reid to make the score 2-0 Highlanders. Junior Will Jennings continued with an RBI single of his own, scoring Gonnelli. An RBI single from senior Nick Cocchia put Governor Livingston up 4-0 after the first inning. Three of the four runs came on two outs.
The bottom of the third inning provided more offense for the Highlanders. With the bases loaded, senior Vin Doren walked, scoring sophomore Drew Compton to make the game 5-0. McCulloch singled on a line drive, bringing home Gonnelli and junior Sam Pile to make the game 7-0 Governor Livingston.
“We come out and play hard every day and today, we really wanted to beat them because of what happened in the counties,” McCulloch said. “We knew Sean was going to throw strikes, so we just went out there and hit and backed him up in the field.”
The Highlanders finished it off in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cocchia led off the inning with a double and went to third after Pile reached base. Doren drove in the both with a double to make the score 9-0 Governor Livingston.
On the afternoon, Doren went 2-for-2 at the plate and had three RBI’s in the win.
“The county tournament is over. All of our focus is on the state tournament,” Doren said. “Everybody did a great job today. If we play our best game, we can beat anybody in the state.”
The Johnson Crusaders are looking ahead, with crucial conference games coming up against Union Catholic and Linden this week.
“Right now, our concentration is on Union Catholic HS [Wednesday afternoon],” Johnson head coach Dave Kennedy said. “Nothing else matters. It’s a conference game, there’s a lot to play for and that’s what has to become our focal point.”
The game was called in the bottom of the fifth inning, with the Highlanders up 10-0 with the mercy rule.
The Johnson Crusaders (10-11) will take on Union Catholic HS on the road Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (21-2) will remain home when they take on Cranford HS Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m.