BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston's Chris Bruno executed a perfect squeeze bunt in the top of the 8th inning scoring Stephen Reid from third base with what proved to be the game's winning run as the Highlanders topped Union 4-2 Thursday afternoon in Union. After the Highlanders tacked on another run in the 8th, lefty Joey DeFeo (2.2 IP, 1H,0 ER) who came on with the bases loaded in the sixth pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to pick up his second win of the season. With the win, Gov. Livingston kept their season mark perfect as they gutted out their 5th straight, which includes 4 big UCC -Watchung division victories.
Gov. Livingston will host Union Catholic on Friday afternoon before closing the week against the Madison Dodgers in the championship game of the annual Highlander Classic on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Berkeley Heights.
Gov. Livingston stating pitcher John Grill (5.1IP,3,H,2ER 6 K) and Union starter Andrew Sanborn (6.2, 3H,2 ER) were equally dominant throughout the heated contest. However, both pitchers would get themselves in trouble after issuing consecutive base on balls.
The Highlanders broke through against Sanborn in the third when Reid (1-2 3B,2RBI) hit a tremendous 380 ft. drive to deep left center for a triple, scoring both Sean McCulloch (1-3,R) and Drew Compton (1-3,3B,R), who had both walked with two outs. Reid, who Sanborn caught looking in the first, quickly fell behind 0-2, before working the count full. The ACC bound Reid then silenced the boisterous Union dugout and also their fans when he drove the next pitch over centerfielder Quincy Mitchell's head for a 3 bagger. Reid who had narrowly missed his third homer of the season gave the Highlanders a 2-0 lead.
Gov. Livingston squandered an opportunity to increase their lead in the fifth after Ethan Saia singled and Michael Delsordo reached on an error after sacrificing him over. With no outs and runners on second and third, Sanborn was able to keep the Highlanders from scoring. The 3-sport star (football QB, BBALL) managed to get a pop out, a strikeout and a fly out to keep the score at 2-0.
Union threated in the bottom half of the inning but Grill came up big after the Farmers loaded the bases with no outs. After walking the first two batters of the inning, a Highlander infield error left the bases full with no outs. Grill then proceeded to keep Union off the scoreboard when he whiffed the next three batters to close out the inning.
Meanwhile, Grill and Sanborn were both dealing, yielding only a harmless single each through the next two innings.
After getting the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the sixth, Grill got himself in trouble by issuing consecutive walks. Matt Silvestre (2-4) then slapped a single to right and the bases were loaded with Farmers. Gov. Livingston coach Chris Roof showed great confidence in his senior southpaw by giving him a chance to work out of the one out jam, but then Grill walked the next hitter to force in a run.
Roof turned to DeFeo who on Tuesday came into a similar situation against Scotch Plains and kept the Raiders scoreless in 1.1 innings. DeFeo got Nick Saraceno to ground into a fielder's choice but the runner on third scored to tie the game at two all. DeFeo then induced a grounder to Compton at third base who made the long throw across the diamond for the last out.
In the 7th, Sanborn was lifted after throwing 100 pitches in 6.2 innings of work in favor of Gio Zuena who had been playing left field. Zuena gave up a two out single to MCculloch, but managed to get the dangerous left hand hitting Compton on a cue ball groundout to third. DeFeo managed to ignore a leadoff error and he sent the game into extra innings after getting a couple of ground outs and a fly out.
Zuena working cautiously to Reid to open the 8th inning, walked the Highlander slugger on four pitches. Andy Serretti, who had good cuts all day with nothing to show for it, worked a walk of his own. Roof then played small ball calling for his hottest hitter this season Grill to sacrifice the runners over. Left handed hitting Grill put the ball down third and moved both Reid and Serretti into scoring position.
Catcher Chris Bruno, who was hitting 6th, also got the bunt sign from Roof holding a 1-1. Bruno executed a perfect safety squeeze, forcing pitcher Zuena to field the ball and play it to first as Reid broke for home scoring the go ahead run. Union then made a couple of errors which allowed Serretti to score giving the Highlanders an Insurance run for a 4-2 lead.
Silvestre opened the 8th with a base hit to right on an 0-2 count, but DeFeo got Zuena to ground into a double play, Compton to Davey to Serretti which drained the life out of the Union bench. The senior lefty closed out his second game of the week, this time as the winning pitcher with yet another weak ground out.
DeFeo appears to be establishing himself as an early season go to mound guy for Roof, appearing in three of the Highlanders' five games. He has one win as a starter (going six against Elizabeth), one win as a reliever, and one save under his belt. In 10 innings of work, the senior has thrown 10 innings, given up two earned runs, seven hits, and just three walks, for an impressive 1.40 ERA.
Against Union, Gov. Livingston was held to a season low four runs and just four hits. Coming in, the Highlanders were averaging 10.75 runs per game. Compton had homered in four consecutive Official at bats (he walked four times in the homer stretch), a school record. The potent offense will look to get back in gear this weekend, first against Union Catholic (Friday 4 p.m.) and then Saturday against Madison (Sat. 1:30 p.m.) in the friendly confines of their home park. A huge game for Union County and UCC-Watchung division seedings and standings looms next Tuesday when Gov. Livingston (5-0, 4-0) travels to meet undefeated Cranford (5-0, 4-0) at Memorial Field in Cranford. First pitch 4 p.m.