Governor Livingston baseball wins fourth G2 state title

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HAMILTON, NJ — When Governor Livingston High School junior right hander Matty Diskin took the mound in the top of the seventh, he had every intention of finishing what he started.

This was his game. This was his shutout.

This was for a state championship and there was no turning back.

Entering the inning having retired 11 in a row, Diskin got the first Pascack Valley High School batter out when Governor Livingston left fielder Dominic Labisi dove to his right, full body extended, and made a fine, one-handed grab.

Following a walk that ended his streak of 12 straight batters mowed down in succession, Diskin got another fly out to left. Now the Highlanders were just one out away from a first state title in nine years and fourth in the past quarter century.

Getting the final out did not come easy. Evan Biener ran into a 1-1 fastball and smoked it all the way to the fence on a fly that read 360 feet. Most thought it was a home run off the bat that would have pulled the Panthers to within one. Instead, the North 1, Group 2 champs had runners on second and third with the tying run at the plate.

Pinch hitter James Narlinger was down in the count at 1-2, with Governor Livingston now one strike away. Narlinger gave the next pitch a ride, but the ball fell right in the glove of Highlander center fielder Dylan Gardner.

Diskin went the distance this time and delivered a performance to cherish for a lifetime for the Central Jersey, Group 2 champions.

Committed to continue playing in college at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, after he graduates next year, Diskin tossed a three-hit shutout that included 10 strikeouts and two walks in leading Governor Livingston to a 3-0 win against Pascack Valley in the Group 2 state championship game at Veterans Park on Saturday, June 8.

Diskin helped his cause by blasting a solo home run over the left field fence for an important insurance run in the bottom of the fourth.

The game-winning hit was produced by senior designated hitter Matthew Kosuda, who belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the third that hit the top of the left field fence just to the right of the 318-foot sign and bounced over. Gardner, Governor Livingston’s No. 9 batter, led off the inning with a single down the left field line and, two outs later, scored ahead of Kosuda on his round-tripper.

“This is an unbelievable feeling that I really can’t express,” Kosuda said.

Governor Livingdton produced four hits, the first a single in the first inning by leadoff batter Zach Geertsma.

“This is the best feeling in the world,” said Diskin, who was also the winning pitcher in the Union County Tournament championship game against Westfield High School on Monday, May 13, at Kean University in Union. In that game, however, Diskin did not finish the seventh, after entering the inning on a shutout with a 10-0 lead. Diskin was charged with seven earned runs before Governor Livingston hung on for a 10-8 victory.

This time, his arsenal of pitches was much more effective. Although he got hit harder in the seventh, he was in total control.
“Once I got my slider going in the second and third inning, I knew I was throwing well,” Diskin said. “My curveball had good movement and my two-seam was my most effective pitch.”

Diskin’s first three strikeouts were looking on fooling curveballs and off speed. His final seven were all swinging, many of them where the Pascack Valley batters could not catch up to his heat.
Diskin retired 12 straight in between the only two walks he issued, with eight of his strikeouts provided in that span. Diskin was perfect in the first, on three ground balls, and then again in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

“Matt was sick the last couple of days,” Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof said. “He took the entire team on his back and pitched a shutout. Nobody works harder. He has a great attitude.”

In the top of the third, with a runner on second and nobody out, Governor Livington sophomore catcher Michael Basile fired the ball to second as he saw the Panther baserunner leaning toward third. The perfectly executed 2-6-5 pickoff halted any possible continued momentum Pascack Valley tried to extend.

“He’s done that all the time this year,” Roof said. “He’s one of the best catchers in the state.”

Governor Livingston finished 28-5, tying the school record for wins in a season. The 2015 Group 2 state champs went 28-6 and, on the day they beat Bernards High School, 10-4, at Toms River South, Roof won his 300th game. He is now at 476 victories and perhaps just one more season away from 500.

“This team could do a little of everything,” Roof said of his 2024 county and state championship squad. “They’re pretty good.”

2024 Group 2 State Championship Game

At Veterans Park, Hamilton

North 1 champs Pascack Valley (23-9) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 3 1
Central Jersey champs Governor Livingston (28-5) 0 0 2 1 0 0 x – 3 4 0
WP: junior RH Matty Diskin – 7 innings complete, 107 pitches, 0 runs, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, 2 walks.
LP: junior LF JT Deriso – 6 innings complete, 83 pitches, 3 runs, 4 hits, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks.
Singles: Pascack Valley – Drew Kirkby. Governor Livingston – Zach Geertsma, Dylan Gardner.
Doubles: Pascack Valley – Max Stalb, Evan Biener. Governor Livingston – None.
Triples: Pascack Valley – None. Governor Livingston – None.
Home runs: Pascack Valley – None. Governor Livingston – Matthew Kosuda, Matty Diskin.

Governor Livingston Baseball in the Group 2 Final (4-1)

• Saturday, June 8, 2024: Governor Livingston 3, Pascack Valley 0
at Veterans Park, Hamilton

• Saturday, June 6, 2015: Governor Livingston 10, Bernards 4
at Toms River South

• Saturday, June 11, 2011: Governor Livingston 8, West Essex 2
at Toms River North

• Saturday, June 10, 2006: Hanover Park 8, Governor Livingston 0
at Toms River South

• Saturday, June 5, 1999: Gov. Livingston 4, Gateway Regional 2
at East Brunswick Tech

Union County teams in state finals at Hamilton (1-4)

2024 – Governor Livingston – won Group 2
2022 – Cranford – lost Group 3
2022 – New Providence – lost Group 1
2021 – New Providence – lost Group 1
2018 – Westfield – lost Group 4

Gov. Livingston wins UCT and Group 2 in same season for first time

UCT titles: 2016, 2018, 2021 and 2024
Group 2 crowns: 1999, 2011, 2015 and 2024

Union County’s last two state championship baseball teams
Governor Livingston in 2024 and 2015 – both in Group 2

Photos by JR Parachini