UNION — If Thursday served as any indication, Union County baseball supremacy will be hard to earn this season.
Both Union and Governor Livingston enter the season as two of the highest-regarded teams in the county. And in their first meeting of the year Tuesday, the difference between both powerhouse squads looked miniscule.
After rallying for two runs in the sixth to force extra innings, Union had the undefeated Highlanders (5-0) on the ropes. However, it was the reigning county champions that came through in the clutch to hand Union a tough 4-2 defeat on a chilly afternoon at LeMatty Field.
With the score knotted up at two in the bottom of the eighth, Gov. Livingston’s Chris Bruno plated Stephen Reid on a go-ahead suicide squeeze to make it 3-2 and keep the Highlanders’ perfect record in tact. GL would later add insurance to secure the victory.
Governor Livingston starting pitcher John Grill (5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K) stymied Union’s bats for the first five innings, but the Farmers finally solved the southpaw in the sixth. That’s when Union started to work the counts, scratch together some baserunners, and ultimately plate two runs to tie things at 2-2 following a run-scoring fielder’s choice off the bat of Nick Saraceno, scoring Jalen Bryant.
It stayed that way after the seventh, but Governor Livingston quickly regained momentum in extra innings.
Stephen Reid and Andy Serretti walked to leadoff the top of the eighth, and both soon advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt from Grill. That was not the Highlanders’ last bunt of the inning, though. Chris Bruno laid down the go-ahead suicide squeeze to plate Reid and give the Highlanders a 3-2 lead that they wouldn’t relent. Serretti would later work his way home, as well.
Joey DeFeo, who was the pitcher of record when the Highlanders reclaimed the lead, secured the win for GL and himself in the bottom of the eighth. He allowed just one hit in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
GL got on the board first when Reid blasted a two-run triple to straightaway center to give the Highlanders a 2-0 lead in the third.
Other than that blast, Union starter Andrew Sanborn was brilliant on the mound. The junior righty made good work of one of the best hitting lineups in the state, which features two highly-likely selections in this year’s MLB Draft in Reid and Drew Compton, both Georgia Tech commits. In 6 2/3 innings, Sanborn allowed just two runs on three hits, with four strikeouts and four walks. He now owns a 2.21 ERA in his first two starts this year.