LIVINGSTON, NJ — The 2017 Livingston High School baseball team’s budding chemistry on and off the field took the Lancers into extra innings against rival Millburn in the home opener on Monday before falling to the Millers, 6-5.

Senior Austin Miles led the team with three hits and an impressive performance in the field. Miles scored twice, along with teammates Daniel Berger, Nick Cotugno and Brett Mendez.

The Lancers took a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning and held it until the seventh, which ended in a 5-5 tie score. Millburn ultimately surpassed Livingston in extra innings to take home the win.

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As Millburn is currently the No. 13 team in the state, Livingston head coach Mickey Ennis was enthusiastic about the Lancers’ effort.

“What we were looking for today was an effort from our kids and we got that,” he said. “I know our kids gave everything that they had today and in the end [Millburn] had one more run than we did. Overall, I was thrilled about playing on our home field—it was a beautiful day, it was a great turnout, it was a rivalry game, and I think it was just a terrific baseball game.”

The Lancers are now 1-3 on the season. In the one victory against Bloomfield, the Lancers were down 7-2 with two outs in the last inning and managed to score seven unanswered runs to earn the win, 9-7.

“Year-in and year-out [Bloomfield] is a very good baseball team in Essex County,” said Ennis. “We’ve been very competitive and, more importantly, we’re just a couple of plays away from beating some of the top teams in the State of New Jersey.”

In addition to the loss against Millburn, the Lancers also fell to Seton Hall Prep and Holy Spirit earlier this season. All three are Top 20 teams in New Jersey, according to Ennis, who added that the competition has been extremely strong so far.

“I’m happy with the way our kids our playing,” said Ennis. “There’s a tremendous chemistry on this team, all the kids are always helping each other out throughout practices and the games and I’m still very confident that this is going to turn out to be a successful season for the 2017 Lancers.”

Ennis reminded the team on Monday that despite coming out on the wrong side, the competition was strong. He also encouraged the players to focus less on the competition and more on becoming a stronger team with every game, which Ennis said is already happening.

“A coach looks for progress, he looks for chemistry on a team, and he looks for fight in a team—and I think I’ve seen all of that in our kids just after four games this year,” he said.

Lancers baseball features a large roster for the 2017 season, including 12 seniors. Ennis said each senior—led by captains Logan Bushwell, Austin Miles, Nick Cotugno and Max Spitz—contributes in one way or another to the chemistry of the team both on and off the field.

“What I’m really happy about with the senior group is a leadership that they all have displayed as seniors, but more importantly the chemistry that they have established working with the younger players and each other,” said Ennis. “It’s really nice to see, from a coach’s perspective, how these kids work with and treat one another and respect one another on our team.”

The Super Essex Conference American division, where the Lancers play, is one of the toughest high school baseball conferences in the state, according to Ennis. He said no game is going to be easy, but that the team is looking forward to the challenge and working toward a state sectional title.  

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