Union County Tournament baseball continues this week

If second-seeded Governor Livingston High School, guided by head coach Chris Roof, at left, and third-seeded Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School, led by head coach Joe Higgins, at right, win their quarterfinal games, then they will face each other in the UCT baseball semifinals on Saturday, May 11, at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Surprises, surprises, surprises.
It was no lock that if you were home on Saturday, May 4, in baseball’s Union County Tournament first-round action that you were going to come out on top.

As a matter of fact, of the eight games contested throughout Union County, the home team won only four of them.

What has been considered the “gold standard” in Union County for some time now, Cranford, Governor Livingston, Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood high schools were the four home teams that were victorious.

Teams that won on the road to knock out the other four top eight seeds included New Providence, Oratory Preparatory, Jonathan Dayton and Arthur L. Johnson high schools.

The UCT was to continue with four quarterfinal round games on Wednesday, May 8. The rain date would most likely be Thursday, May 9.

The semifinals are set for Saturday, May 11, at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark and then the final for Monday, May 13, at Kean University in Union.

For Oratory Preparatory School, the 13th seed, winning at fourth-seeded Summit High School, 6-4, was the biggest first-round surprise. Oratory Prep was only 3-13 going in and had lost eight in a row and nine of 10. It was only the sixth time this year Oratory Prep scored at least six runs.

The Wednesday, May 8, scheduled quarterfinal matchups included, on the top side of the bracket: 9-New Providence at 1-Westfield and 13-Oratory Prep at 5-Cranford High School and, on the bottom side of the bracket: 10-Jonathan Dayton at 2-Governor Livingston and 11-Arthur L. Johnson High School at 3-Scotch Plains–Fanwood.

For the second time in three years, small-school power Jonathan Dayton was out to win at Governor Livingston in the quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs pulled off the feat two years ago, downing the defending champions and then eventually reaching the final for the first time since 2005.

Cranford, Governor Livingston, Westfield and Scotch Plains–Fanwood have combined to win every UCT since 2009. The last team outside of them to capture the crown was Elizabeth High School–Frank J. Cicarell Academy in 2008.

Cranford has won the championship in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2022 and 2023 since 2009; while Westfield has won it in 2012, 2014 and 2017; Governor Livingston in 2016, 2018 and 2021; and Scotch Plains–Fanwood in 2009 and 2019. There was no UCT in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cranford is going for its third title in a row and, if the Cougars beat Oratory Prep at home, they were just two more wins away. Cranford won its first three crowns consecutively in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and is the last school to three-peat and also repeat.

Governor Livingston last won in 2021, Scotch Plains–Fanwood in 2019 and Westfield in 2017. Westfield has won the most crowns with 15, while Cranford is next with 11.

UCC division races heating up

There were ties, in the loss column, for division leads in the Union County Conference’s upper Watchung Division and middle Mountain Division, as regular season play continued Monday, May 6.

In the Watchung Division, Governor Livingston led with a 7-2 division mark, while Westfield, which last week lost at New Providence, was second at 5-2. Governor Livingston began the week at 15-3 overall and Westfield at 13-2. Scotch Plains–Fanwood was also 5-2 in the division and owners of an overall record of 14-5. Summit, 12-4-1 overall, was 6-3 and Cranford, 10-6 overall, was 5-3.

Elizabeth and David Brearley High School both began the week 11-5 overall and tied for first in the Mountain Division at 7-2. Both lost at home in first-round UCT play on Saturday, May 4, sixth-seeded Elizabeth to 11th-seeded Arthur L. Johnson, 4-1, and seventh-seeded David Brearley to 10th-seeded Jonathan Dayton, 9-2.
David Brearley and Elizabeth split their Watchung Division games, with Elizabeth coming out on top 4-0 at home on Saturday, April 4. David Brearley won last week’s game in Kenilworth, 15-12.

Union Catholic High School began the week 9-7 overall and in third place in the Mountain Division at 6-2. The eighth-seeded Vikings lost to ninth-seeded New Providence, 4-3, at home in the UCT first-round on Saturday, May 4.

Although Roselle Park High School was ousted from UCT play as the 14th seed at third-seeded Scotch Plains–Fanwood, 7-0, on Saturday, May 4, the Panthers have already clinched the UCC’s Valley Division crown at 7-0 and with just one more division game to go. The other four schools in the division – Linden, Rahway, Plainfield and Hillside high schools – have at least three division losses.

Falling to Scotch Plains–Fanwood was Roselle Park’s first setback this season to a team from Union County. Beginning the week at 11-4, Roselle Park’s previous losses were to North Arlington High School from Bergen County, Whippany Park High School from Morris County and Carteret High School from Middlesex County.

Union County Tournament baseball continues

Wednesday, May 8

Top side of bracket

9-New Providence at 1-Westfield
13-Oratory Prep at 5-Cranford

Bottom side of bracket

10-JonathanDayton at 2-Governor Livingston
11-Arthur L. Johnson at 3-Scotch Plains–Fanwood

Saturday, May 11

At Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark

Championship game
Monday, May 13

At Kean University in Union

UCT champions since 2008

2008: Elizabeth – won it at Elizabeth High School
2009: Scotch Plains–Fanwood – won it at Elizabeth High School
2010: Cranford – won it at Elizabeth High School
2011: Cranford – won it at Kean University
2012: Westfield – won it at Elizabeth High School
2013: Cranford – won it at Kean University
2014: Westfield – won it at Kean University
2015: Cranford – won it at Kean University
2016: Governor Livingston – won it at Kean
2017: Westfield – won it at Kean University
2018: Governor Livingston – won it at Kean
2019: Scotch Plains–Fanwood – won it at Kean
2021: Governor Livingston – won it at Elizabeth High School
2022: Cranford – won it at Kean University
2023: Cranford – won it at Kean University

Photo by JR Parachini