Union County baseball roundup before the UCT gets seeded

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UNION COUNTY, NJ — Before the baseball Union County Tournament gets seeded and Cranford High School attempts to become the first three-peat winner since the Cougars pulled off the feat in 1999, 2000 and 2001, this was a week filled with big Union County Conference division classes.

Westfield High School began the week as the lone undefeated team in Union County with an overall record of 8-0 and a 3-0 mark atop the UCC’s upper Watchung Division. The Blue Devils had yet to face the other top three teams in the division – Cranford, Governor Livingston High School and Summit High School – but were scheduled to face all three this week.

Westfield was to play at Summit on Tuesday, April 23; was then to host Cranford on Wednesday, April 24; and on Friday, April 26, is scheduled to host Governor Livingston.

Governor Livingston began the week 9-1 overall and 4-1 in the Watchung Division, while Cranford was 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Watchung Division.

Governor Livingston was first to clash with Essex County power Caldwell High School at Rutgers University on Monday, April 22, with the Highlanders being the home team, while Caldwell was to provide the game-trainer. Caldwell entered with an overall record of 5-7.

To say that Governor Livingston has begun the season as an offensive juggernaut might be an understatement. Led by the bats of Matt Diskin, Zach Geertsma, Alex Adornato and Michael Novotny, the Highlanders outscored their first 10 foes by an impressive 96-0 margin.

After beating 4-1 Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, 9-1, at home on Monday, April 15, Governor Livingston suffered its first loss – a wild 11-10, nine-inning decision at home to Watchung Division newcomer Summit. Governor Livingston tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh by scoring two runs, extending the game to extra innings. Then, after both teams did not score in the eighth, Summit scored five times in the top of the ninth to take an 11-6 lead. Governor Livingston came back with four runs in the bottom of the ninth to fall just short of tying the game once again. The Highlanders banged out 17 hits.

Governor Livingston went 3-1 in a very challenging stretch last week. After the Summit setback, the Highlanders blanked Mountain Division foe Elizabeth High School–Frank J. Cicarell Academy, 12-0, at home on Wednesday, April 17. Then, in the annual Autism Awareness Challenge at North Brunswick Community Park in North Brunswick on Saturday, April 20, Governor Livingston downed Middlesex County opponent Middlesex High School, 14-4.

The Highlanders scored at least nine runs in eight of their first 10 games and at least 10 in seven.

Cranford’s lone Watchung Division loss before this week’s action began was at home to Scotch Plains–Fanwood, 4-1, on Wednesday, April 10. Cranford’s other two setbacks were to Mountain Division squads, including an 11-10 loss at Elizabeth on Friday, April 5, and a 7-2 decision at home to Oratory Preparatory School on Wednesday, April 17.

Governor Livingston was to play at Cranford on Tuesday, April 23, for the first of its two Watchung Division classes.

Elizabeth, guided by first-year head coach and former Union Catholic High School standout Kristian Cortizo, began the week leading the Mountain Division at 5-0 and was 7-2 overall. Besides the Governor Livingston defeat last week, Elizabeth’s only other loss was at Westfield, 7-6, on Opening Day, Monday, April 1.

Elizabeth is led offensively by senior Stanley Bobadilla, who began the week leading the team in hits with 12. Junior utility player Emmanuel Nunez led in runs with 12. Senior catcher Alfredo Gonzalez and junior Derek Escobar each were at 10 hits at the start of the week.

Elizabeth was scheduled to play at Mountain Division rival Union High School on Tuesday, April 23; was to host St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison, on Wednesday, April 24; to play at Oratory Prep of Summit on Thursday, April 25; and then to host Somerset County’s Franklin High School on Saturday morning, April 27.

David Brearley and Union Catholic high schools stood tied for second in the Mountain Division at 3-1 as both were two games better than .500 overall. David Brearley began the week 5-3 and Union Catholic 6-4. David Brearley’s division loss was at Elizabeth, 4-0, on Wednesday, April 10, while Union Catholic’s lone division setback was at Elizabeth, 9-8, on Friday, April 12.

Roselle Park High School began the week 6-1 and winners of five straight, leading the UCC’s five-schools Valley Division at 3-0. Roselle Park’s only loss was at Bergen County foe North Arlington High School, 9-2, on Friday, April 5.

Roselle Park was the only team in the Valley Division with an overall record of more than .500. Plainfield High School was second in the division standings at 2-1.

Roselle Park was scheduled to host Plainfield on Tuesday, April 23; play at Plainfield on Wednesday, April 24; play at Morris Hills High School on Thursday, April 25; and then play at Valley Division rival Hillside High School on Friday, April 26. Plainfield began the week at 3-4.

Senior pitcher-infielder Edwin Rodriguez began the week leading the Panthers with 12 hits, 13 RBI and nine singles. Sophomore pitcher-infielder Jose Candelaria had a team-leading 11 runs to go along with 10 hits and 10 RBI and senior pitcher-infielder Johnny Amato had 10 runs and 11 hits.

Roselle Park began the week outscoring the opposition 63-20 through its first seven games. The Panthers scored at least 11 runs in four of the first seven clashes.