SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - The Union High School Farmers varsity baseball team took to the road to continue their play in the state tournament, but for most of the afternoon, the spotlight remained on Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School starting pitcher Jake Friedman.
After allowing one hit to Union senior Jerry Gamone in the first inning, he shut down the Union lineup outside of the single from Gamone. Eight of the recorded outs during Friedman’s outing came on ground balls, while two of them came via pop-outs and two of them fly-outs. His approach on the mound kept Union off-balance and off the basepaths for most of the afternoon.
“[Jake Friedman] pitched great. I tip my cap to him, he was really good today,” Union head coach Angel Navarette said. “There’s not too much you can do against pitchers like that.”
He went six innings and retired 13 straight Union batters before allowing a walk in the top of the sixth inning as the fourth-seeded Raiders defeated the fifth-seeded Farmers 9-1 in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Quarterfinals Thursday afternoon in Scotch Plains.
The Union Farmers finish their 2018 season with an 18-9 record.
Union junior starting pitcher Mike Velez got the start, but right from the bottom of the first inning, Scotch Plains-Fanwood got to him early to get on the board. Raiders junior Willy Gale singled to lead off the inning and came in to score on a double from sophomore Dean Kirian, making it 1-0 Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
The Raiders made it 2-0 following an RBI single from junior Josh Canavan, scoring Jonny Ramos, who was hit by a pitch and went right to third base after a pickoff error from Velez. In the bottom of the third inning, Kirian led off the inning with a walk and senior Sam Schetelich to put runners at first and second with no outs.
Velez got the first two outs but walked freshman Matt Syvertsen to load the bases. Ramos cashed in for a single, scoring Kirian to make it 3-0 Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Velez was taken out of the game after the hit, relieved by sophomore Andrew Sanborn, who got through the inning.
The Raiders scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to give a major cushion and ride towards the win. Kirian drove in his third RBI with a single, scoring Gale, while Schetelich and Syversten each drove in a run with a single each. Senior Anthony DeNizo added to the offensive effort with an RBI double. Scotch Plains-Fanwood led Union 8-0 after the inning was over.
DeNizo drove in the final run for the Raiders with a triple in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Union sophomore Dren Gocaj broke the shutout bid with an RBI single in the top of the seventh inning.
The loss closes out the careers of Union High School seniors Brandon Bedlivey, Anthony Farinha and Jerry Gamone, who earned the praise of head coach Angel Navarette.
“More than anything, I want to thank the three seniors who were amazing this year. They were great leaders for four years at Union High School and we’re definitely going to miss them,” Navarette said.
The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders (16-10) advance to the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Semifinals.