Diskin has dominating win against visiting Scotch Plains-Fanwood

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BERKELEY HEIGHTS — Matt Diskin was dealing immediately.
Three up and three down in the top of the first.

Visiting Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School was sent back to the dugout.

Then the host Highlanders took advantage of three Raider errors and pushed across four runs in the bottom of the first, giving Diskin a lead that seemed insurmountable.

It was. Diskin, No. 8 on your Highlander scorecard, was that good.
So was Governor Livingston High School.

Diskin, a Mountainside resident who has given a verbal commitment to continue playing in college at Stetson University, overpowered Scotch Plains–Fanwood on Monday, April 15, in leading the Highlanders to a convincing 9-1 Union County Conference–Mountain Division baseball triumph.

Governor Livingston improved to 7-0 and 3-0 in the Watchung Division, while Scotch Plains–Fanwood had a four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the Watchung Division. Governor Livingston has outscored its first five foes 60-5.

Diskin, a junior right hander who improved to 3-0, retired the first 11 batters he faced, striking out five of them, and yielded just five baserunners total in six complete innings. Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof felt that 82 pitches were enough, so Jason Habedank pitched the seventh.

The pitches were 52 for strikes, most of them fastballs, and 29 for balls, which is a pretty good ratio on any level.

“My fastball was jumping out of my hand, so I used my two-seam to my advantage,” Diskin said.

Diskin fanned seven total, five swinging and two looking, walked two and hit one batter. He allowed just one run on two hits, with Scotch Plains–Fanwood not getting its first hit until a ball went off Diskin’s foot with two outs and nobody on in the fourth. Diskin also fielded three balls hit back to him for three assists.

“My body felt really good, especially my lower half,” Diskin said. “That gave me the ability to command my control.”

“At times, he was even better than his first two starts,” Roof said.

Diskin’s first wins in his other two starts were against Oratory Preparatory School and New Providence High School.

“He’s been very consistent so far,” Roof said.

In the first, it was a ground ball out to third, a strikeout swinging on six pitches and then a strikeout looking on another six. With a 4-0 lead now in the top of the second, it was two more strikeouts swinging and then a ground ball back to Diskin.

In the third, Diskin got a second ball hit to him that he threw to first and then he produced his fifth strikeout, another one swinging. The final out of the frame came on a ground ball hit to returning varsity sophomore shortstop Zach Geertsma, a Berkeley Heights resident who was 3-for-4 with three singles to left, three runs and one RBI. Geertsma also reached on an error, reaching base all four times up from his No. 2 spot in the batting order.

“We took a step further by beating this team today and now we need to lock in,” Geertsma said.

When Diskin took the mound in the fourth, he appeared to have no-hit stuff. Diskin retired the first batter on another ground ball to Geertsma and a third one hit back to him. On the first pitch to lefty-swinging Joe LaRosa, the Scotch Plains–Fanwood designated hitter, LaRosa hit a shot off Diskin’s foot that fell into the glove of Governor Livingston second baseman Matthew Shaffer for an infield hit. Although the no-hitter ended, Diskin retired the next batter on a fly ball to center.

In the top of the fifth, now with a 7-0 cushion, Diskin walked the leadoff batter for his first bases on balls and then recorded his sixth strikeout, getting the batter swinging on a 1-2 count. A line drive to Geertsma at short and then Diskin’s seventh and final strikeout, this one looking, followed to close the fifth.

In the sixth, it was Diskin issuing his second walk and then getting a fly ball to left for the first out of the inning. He then hit a batter and then got one more fly ball out to left. Then came an RBI-single to left connected by Jaden Carpien, followed by a fly ball out to right.

Diskin allowed only four fly ball outs to the outfield, with three of them coming in the sixth.

Diskin worked ahead all game long and his fastball was one to which Scotch Plains–Fanwood batters could not catch up.

“This is the kind of win we hope to feed off of,” Diskin said.

Photos by JR Parachini