So far so good for a Governor Livingston baseball team that has the highest aspirations this season.
Goal No. 1 would be to play up to its capabilities.
GL began Wednesday with a matter-of-fact 12-1 win at Plainfield and then followed that up Thursday with a more-than-convincing 16-1 Union County Conference-Watchung Division home triumph over Elizabeth.
After getting in only three scrimmages and being outside only four times during a pre-season dominated by temperatures below freezing and fields still thawing out from the winter’s heavy snowfall, 11th-season head coach Chris Roof can not truly evaluate his Highlanders until they really hit the diamond hard, with not only games now that the season has begun, but also practices.
“Potential doesn’t win you games,” Roof said. “We have to get outside and perform.”
With Mother Nature preventing baseball again on Friday after more rainfall, GL’s home division game against 2-0 Westfield was moved to next Wednesday, April 9 at 4 p.m.
State-ranked Westfield, which reached the Group 4 state championship game in Toms River two of the past three seasons and the year in between won its record 13th Union County Tournament championship, opened Tuesday with a 9-6 division win at arch rival Scotch Plains and then on Thursday blanked host Union 1-0 in league play.
HIGHLANDER CLASSIC AT GL
MOVED BACK TO START APRIL 6
Friday’s heavy rainfall caused the postponement of the beginning of the 5th annual Highlander Classic at GL, with the first two games rained out Saturday and moved to Sunday – April 6 – at noon and 2 p.m.
On Sunday it will be Madison vs. defending champion NewarkAcademy at noon, followed by New Providence vs. GL at 2 p.m.
The third-place and first-place games are scheduled for next Saturday – April 12 – at GL at 11 a.m. (third-place) and 2:30 p.m. (first place).
With the GL baseball team you’ll always know what the lineup is ahead of time.
There are no head games.
The only mystery is what exactly will happen in the contest that is about to unfold.
That’s what makes the Highlander Classic so special. You get four teams vying for a championship in early April with each anxious to build off something before the season really gets into full swing.
The 5th annual Highlander Classic has the same four teams as last year’s. The event will conclude at GL next Saturday, April 12 – weather permitting of course.
NewarkAcademy won last year’s event for the first time, defeating New Providence 14-4 and then three-time defending champion GL 4-3 in the title game, which was played at SnyderPark in BerkeleyHeights.
GL rebounded by defeating Watchung Division rival Scotch Plains 10-8 at home three days later, with the Highlanders scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to thwart the visiting 6-0 Raiders.
GL defeated Madison in the first three Highlander Classic finals, while New Providence finishing third in 2010, fourth in 2011 and third in 2012. Also competing in 2010 was Chatham, in 2011 was NewarkAcademy, which finished third, and in 2012 was Oratory Prep.
5th ANNUAL HIGHLANDER CLASSIC – 2014
April 6:Madison vs. NewarkAcademy, noon – first round at GL
April 6:New Providence vs. Gov. Livingston, 2 p.m. – first round at GL
April 12: Non-winners play each other, 11 a.m. – for 3rd place at GL
April 12: Winners play each other, 2:30 p.m. – for 1st place at GL
4th ANNUAL HIGHLANDER CLASSIC – 2013
April 13: Newark Academy 4, Gov. Livingston 3 – 1st place at SnyderPark
April 13: New Providence 6, Madison 3 – 3rd place at SnyderPark
April 6: Gov. Livingston 15, Madison 5 – first round at GL
April 6:NewarkAcademy 14, New Providence 4 – first round at GL
3rd ANNUAL HIGHLANDER CLASSIC – 2012
April 14: Gov. Livingston 6, Madison 4 – 1st place at SnyderPark
April 14:New Providence 10, Oratory Prep 6 – 3rd place at SnyderPark
April 7: Gov. Livingston 9, Oratory Prep 0 – first round at GL
April 7:Madison 7, New Providence 1 – first round at GL
2nd ANNUAL HIGHLANDER CLASSIC – 2011
April 9: Gov. Livingston 5, Madison 4 (9 inn.) – 1st place
April 9:NewarkAcademy 9, New Providence 1 – 3rd place
April 2: Gov. Livingston 7, New Providence 6 – first round
April 2: Madison 12, Newark Academy 2 – first round
1st HIGHLANDER CLASSIC – 2010
April 17: Gov. Livingston 6, Madison 0 – 1st place
April 17:New Providence 8, Chatham 2 – 3rd place
April 10: Gov. Livingston 13, Chatham 0 – first round
April 10:Madison 24, New Providence 11 – first round
Coming off a 14-11 season in which many of this year’s players gained their first true varsity experience, GL is led by four-year varsity starter, senior Ryan Jennings.
As a freshman three years ago, Jennings drove in the game-winning hit in his first varsity game, which was a GL win at Scotch Plains.
When Jennings is not patrolling center field he is on the mound, one of eight Highlander hurlers. Jennings is one of two lefties on the staff, the other being senior Ethan Frohman, GL’s No. 1 pitcher.
“Jennings is the best kid we’ve ever had when all is said and done,” Roof said. “He’s a total team player and a born leader. He works so hard.”
Jennings, who Roof said could be a football player in college, will continue to play baseball next at FordhamUniversity.
Jennings is one of the top No. 3 batters (in the lineup) in UnionCounty and is coming off an outstanding junior season that saw him earn First Team All-County honors from The Star-Ledger. Jennings batted .453 in 2013, banging out 39 hits, driving in 30 runs and scoring 30 times. He had 13 doubles, five home runs and one triple and an on-base percentage of .525.
Frohman, Third Team All-County last year, is in his third year on the varsity. Schools he’s considering playing at next include the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Georgetown, Dartmouth, Princeton and Rutgers.
Roof said Frohman’s No. 1 pitch is his 2-seam fastball.
“His velocity will grow as the season progresses,” Roof said.
The other six GL pitchers include senior right handers Victor Candeloro and Steve Duda and junior righties John Wills, Dan Belfer, Ryan Zucker and Mike Falk.
Duda will continue playing next year at William Paterson.
At catcher are senior Barron Natelli, junior Rob Dilly and junior Mike Policastro.
The infield includes Frohman and Falk at first base, junior John Tedesco and senior Nick Rodriquez at second, junior Ian Lynch and Wills at third and Duda and Zucker at shortstop.
In left field are seniors Pat Mahoney and Dan Wolfish, Jennings is in center and in right are seniors Ian Woods, Candeloro and Nick DiSarno.
Returning starters include Jennings, Woods, Mahoney, Lynch, Duda, Frohman, Natelli, DiSarno, Tedesco and Dilly started some games at catcher last year.
“We have nine seniors and nine juniors,” Roof said. “Last year they were thrown to the wolves because we had nobody else. This year’s juniors need to step up.”
NOTES: GL’s scrimmages included at Belleville, Bridgewater-Raritan at Diamond Nation and West Morris at home.
GL and West Morris are two of the teams that will challenge two-time defending champion Cranford in North 2, Group 3.