BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Top seeded Gov. Livingston defeated eighth-seeded Summit 2-1 Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Livingston's dominant defensive performance enabled the Highlanders to advance to the semifinal round of the Union County Tournament and claim their twelfth consecutive win.
Senior Maddie Phillips allowed only five hits and no walks throughout the first five innings. Senior Alanna Namit stepped in to provide relief for the last two innings, yielding only one hit and five strikeouts. Namit also led Gov. Livingston with three hits and two RBIs. Junior Jaime Belfer and Alyssa Lombardi both recorded two hits while adding a run each.
Gov. Livingston immediately got off to a strong start due to their brilliant defensive performance in the first inning. The Highlanders outfield was quickly able to grab two pop flies in the first two plays of the game. Phillips finished off the top of the first with a strikeout to retire the sides. Gov. Livingston returned to the dug out determined to replicate their success at the plate. Belfer started the Highlanders off with a bunt to get onto first. Namit followed with a slam to center field, knocking Belfer home. However, the Hilltoppers quickly recovered before GL could continue their momentum with a double play to send the game into the second.
After a stagnant second inning, the stifling Highlander defense continued to hinder Summit from creating an offensive spark. Gov. Livingston carried this confidence to the plate as Namit and senior Katie Debbie converted two base hits with the first two at-bats. Senior Nicole Trezza followed up with a bunt to load the bases. The Highlanders seemed to be in the perfect position to score, however, the Hilltoppers defense soured their momentum by fielding a Highlander line drive and striking out the next GL batter.
Summit was finally able to generate an offensive spark with a single to left field. This set up senior Sami Auerbach to smash a a triple to left field, sending the Summit runner home tying the game 1-1. However, GL responded in the bottom of the fourth with a clutch RBI from Namit, allowing the Highlanders to take a one run lead into the fifth.
During the last two innings, the Highlanders continued to struggle offensively with a series of groundouts and popouts. Unfazed, Namit remained poised on the mound by striking out two of the four batters in the sixth inning and striking out the side in the seventh.
The Highlanders (16-2) will face Cranford next (9-4) in the semifinal round this Saturday at 3 p.m.