LIVINGSTON, NJ - During a midseason slump,Livingston knew at 7-7 they were much better than their record indicated. Since that point, Livingston won nine straight games. Thursday afternoon in Livingston the Lancers won their tenth straight over the Columbia Cougars 9-2.
“We knew how good this team could be,” Towson-bound senior Brady McLaughlin said. “It was only a matter of time before everything worked out and now we are on quite the winning streak.”
Livingston’s winning streak has been led by one key element: pitching. Thursday was no different as senior Ryan Sullivan pitched six innings of one-run baseball while only allowing five hits and striking out four.
“Pitching wins games,” Sullivan said. “It’s one of the oldest sayings and that has been what has carried us to this point.”
Columbia did strike first in the top of the third inning. Aaron Brown reached on a single and then scored on a Brandon Spears double that nicked off the glove of leaping third baseman Matt Rehm.
Livingston immediately struck back with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Connor Kimmel singled up the middle, which plated John Sorrentino and Brandon Levy. Then after Brady McLaughlin reached on an error, Jordan Farber hit a hard ground ball to shortstop and another error allowed Kimmel and McLaughlin to score.
Livingston led 4-1 after three innings.
Livingston was not done yet. In the fourth inning, Livingston scored three more runs off the bat of Brady McLaughlin as he roped a triple to right field, which scored Levy and Kimmel. McLaughlin then scored on a Brian Drapeau sacrifice fly. In the fifth inning, Livingston added two runs. Jordan Farber laced a single up the middle to score John Sorrentino followed by a single by McLaughlin that scored Kimmel.
“We did all the right things today,” Kimmel said. “Ryan went out on the mound and threw a great game. Everyone saw the ball at the plate and hit real well today. That’s all we can ask as we have our state tournament game tomorrow.”
An eight run lead was more than Sullivan needed as he breezed through the Cougar lineup from the fourth inning on.
“I wanted to keep the hitters honest today,”Sullivan said. “I worked off my fastball and tried keeping them off balance.”
Livingston had an opportunity to win the conference if Seton Hall Prep lost to Nutley today. However, the Pirates defeated Nutley 10-0 and shut down Livingston’s conference hopes.
Livingston travels to Randolph tomorrow to take on the Rams in the North 1 Group 4 state semifinal.
“Tomorrow is the biggest game of the season and this is what we play for,” McLaughlin concluded.