WEST ORANGE, NJ -- Although the Livingston baseball team held its Senior Day several weeks ago, there was certainly a ceremonial aspect to the Lancers' final game of the 2019 season, a 5-1 loss to Seton Hall Prep on Monday.
As the final game for all of Livingston's seniors, head coach Mickey Ennis made pitching and pinch-hitting moves in the late innings that reflected a desire to get many 12th-graders a last chance to see varsity action.
Seton Hall Prep (22-7) clinched first place in the American Division of the Suburban Essex Conference with the victory, a combined one-hitter by Kieran Hollander (5 IP), Dan Savino (1 1/3 IP) and Chris Maldonado (2/3 IP), fueled by four runs in the first inning. Junior first baseman Will Egner's third-inning single represented the only hit for the Lancers (14-10).
Senior right-hander MJ DePaola settled down after Seton Hall's four-run first to pitch well until Ennis removed him with one out in the sixth inning, giving fellow senior right-handers Ray Larsen and Noah Minsky each one batter to finish out the inning, and their high school careers. Despite the loss DePaola surpassed 120 career strikeouts in the game. He will continue playing baseball next year at Montclair State University.
Senior third baseman Chris Senney came in needing an unlikely five-hit game to reach 100 hits for his illustrious career. Senney went 0-for-2, reaching base once when he was hit by a pitch. While he fell short of 100 career hits, his final career batting average of .444 nonetheless places him in the upper echelon of all-time hitters at Livingston.
Senior Matthew Feit drove in Livingston's only run with a fielder's choice grounder in the third inning.
Senior catcher Richie DeMaio reached base twice, on a hard-hit liner off the third baseman's glove for an error, and on a walk. DeMaio also threw out a runner trying to steal. But playing a full senior season was, for DeMaio, a victory in itself after he missed his entire junior season after suffering a broken leg on Opening Day 2018.
"I came here to Livingston four years ago," said Ennis, who coached at Madison and taught at Hawthorne before arriving at Livingston before the 2016 season, "and these guys, Richie DeMaio and Chris Senney, both got varsity playing time as freshmen that season, which was unheard of before that.
"This senior group was the first group I had at Livingston," Ennis said, "so they were my introduction to Livingston baseball, and they have helped re-establish a proud baseball tradition at Livingston High School."
That tradition included a Greater Newark Tournament championship in 2018.
Livingston senior baseball players included Richie DeMaio, MJ DePaola, Griffin Erich, Matthew Feit, Evan Kamikow, Ray Larsen, Bobby Martin, Noah Minsky, David Poesl, Chris Senney and Ernie Wilson.