Governor Livingston baseball improves to 7-0

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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – If the weather cooperates and the Governor Livingston High School baseball team gets in all four of its games scheduled to be played this week, this could be a solid indication of exactly where the Highlanders are and possibly going.

Beginning the week at 6-0 overall and 2-0 against fellow Union County Conference–Watchung Division foes, Governor Livingston began with a big Watchung Division home game against 4-2 Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School on Monday, April 15. The Raiders came to Berkeley Heights with a four-game winning streak.

Sparked by dominating pitching early on from junior right hander Matt Diskin and an advantageous offense that immediately cashed in on several Scotch Plains–Fanwood miscues in the bottom of the first, the Highlanders rolled to a solid 9-1 triumph.

“We’re playing a lot of good teams this week and you can tell the energy in the dugout,” Diskin said.

Governor Livingston improved to 7-0 and has outscored its first seven opponents by a whopping 60-5 margin. Scotch Plains–Fanwood had a four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 4-3. Governor Livingston moved to 3-0 against Watchung Division opponents, while Scotch Plains–Fanwood slipped to 2-1.

Governor Livingston is out to win the Watchung Division for the first time since 2018.

Governor Livingston was also scheduled to host its new foe in the Watchung Division, Summit High School, on Tuesday, April 16, and Mountain Division opponent Elizabeth High School–Frank J. Cicarell Academy on Wednesday, April 17. The Highlanders are then set to play Middlesex High School on Sunday, April 19, in the annual Autism Awareness Challenge at North Brunswick Community Park.

After Diskin set down the Raiders in order in the top of the first on 14 pitches, including a strikeout swinging and then one looking, the Highlanders wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame.

Leadoff batter Matthew Shaffer reached on an infield error and then stole second base before Zach Geertsma hit what would be the first of his three straight singles to left field to put runners on second and third. Diskin then brought home Shaffer on a deep sacrifice fly to center to give Governor Livingston the lead for good at 1-0. Geertsma also tagged and went to third.

Geertsma reached base all four times up on three singles and an error to go 3-for-4 with three runs and one RBI.

“Coach tells us to jump on the fastballs because the percentage of hitting a fastball compared to a breaking ball is higher,” Geertsma said.

Alex Adornato then struck out, but the catcher had to throw to first and his attempt went past the first baseman, so Adornato reached first and Geertsma scored on the error to make it 2-0. Two batters later, Michael Novotny blooped a hit to center that brought home Adornato for a 3-0 lead.

Michael Basile then reached on the third Scotch Plains–Fanwood infield error of the inning, with Novotny scoring for a 4-0 advantage. Three Raider errors led to three unearned Highlander runs in the inning. Scotch Plains–Fanwood starter Ryan Quinones, also a right hander, was a bright spot for his team in the inning by striking out the side.

Governor Livingston scored its next three runs in the fourth on Geertsma’s third hit to left, an RBI-single, and a two-run homer the lefty-swinging Adornato blasted over the right-field fence.

Scotch Plains–Fanwood got on the board in the sixth on an RBI-single produced by Jaden Carpien to make it a 7-1 contest. Of the five baserunners Diskin allowed, three of them reached in the sixth. Diskin retired the first 11 batters he faced, retiring the side in order in the first, second and third innings.

Governor Livingston scored the game’s final two runs in its half of the sixth. Adornato almost hit a second two-run homer over the right-field fence, but had to settle for a sacrifice fly-RBI. Novotny then drove the ball to the right side for an RBI-single that made it 9-1.

Right hander Jason Habedank needed only five pitches to close the game for Governor Livingston in the top of the seventh, his last one good for an inning-ending and game-ending 1-6-3 double play.

“To get four runs in the first against a good pitcher, that is important,” Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof said. “We took advantage.”

Governor Livingston banged out nine hits in its six at-bats, scoring in three of them. The Highlanders have scored at least nine runs in five of their first seven games.

Diskin’s line was 82 pitches, 53 strikes and 29 balls, for six innings complete. He struck out seven, walked two and hit one batter, allowing only one run on two hits to improve to 3-0.

Diskin’s first two wins were against Oratory Preparatory School and New Providence High School. Governor Livingston defeated Oratory Prep 10-2 at home in the season-opener on Monday, April 1, and New Providence 3 -1 at New Providence on Tuesday, April 9.

Photos by JR Parachini