BERKELEY HEIGHTS – Last year Ethan Frohman got the ball for his team’s county semifinal contest and pitched the Highlanders into the final for the first time in three years.
This time head coach Chris Roof’s strategy was to pitch Frohman in Wednesday’s quarterfinals and hope that his GL squad would advance – once again – to Saturday’s semifinals.
That mission was accomplished at home in Berkeley Heights, with the top-seeded Highlanders pulling away late with a 12-0, six-inning victory over eighth-seeded Union.
GL, behind a dominant, one-hitter thrown by Frohman (5-1), advanced to the Union County Tournament semifinals for the sixth time under Roof’s tenure, which began in 2004, and for the second year in a row.
Now Roof will turn to senior right hander Dan Belfer (2-1) when his Highlanders face fourth-seeded Johnson in – according to the Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (UCIAC) bracket – Saturday’s second scheduled semifinal at Elizabeth’s Williams Field, first pitch at approximately 4 p.m.
“We have the utmost confidence in Dan,” Roof said. “That was a big reason why we decided to throw Frohman today (Wednesday). Dan would be a No. 1 pitcher on a lot of teams.”
The 62nd annual Union County Tournament will continue Saturday at Elizabeth’s Williams Field, with semifinals scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Unlike in seasons past, including last year, the top side of the bracket – featuring 4-Johnson vs. 1-GL – is the second game. The first game pits 10th-seeded Summit vs. third-seeded Cranford.
Here’s a look at the semifinal matchups and Wednesday’s quarterfinal round scores:
SATURDAY’S (MAY 2) SEMIFINALS AT ELIZABETH
10-Summit vs. 3-Cranford, 1:30 p.m.
4-Johnson vs. 1-Gov. Livingston, 4 p.m.
WEDNESDAY’S (APRIL 29) QUARTERFINALS SCORES
Gov. Livingston 12, Union 0 – at GL
Johnson 11, Elizabeth 2 – at Johnson
Summit 8, Scotch Plains 7 – at Scotch Plains
Cranford 4, Westfield 2 – at Cranford
On Wednesday, Frohman and senior right hander Jonathan Brignoni – two of the top senior pitchers in Union County – opposed each other on the mound for the second time this season. The first was in the season-opener for both back on April 1. That day it was Frohman coming away with a 2-1 victory, despite an outstanding effort by Brignoni.
With one out in the top of the first of Wednesday’s game, Union’s Kyle Boyd banged out an opposite field single to right. Frohman rebounded by striking out the next two batters to end the inning.
Frohman then went on to retire the final 17 batters he faced, with Boyd being Union’s only baserunner. Frohman retired the side in order in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
GL struck for two unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the second to take the lead for good at 2-0. The Highlanders scored their third run – also unearned – in the fifth for a 3-0 advantage.
A nine-run GL bottom of the sixth was capped with a game-ending grand slam home run blasted over the left field fence by senior John Tedesco.
Not all of GL’s final nine runs were earned. The grand slam was hit off a Union reliever.
Frohman, who threw exactly 80 pitches, struck out nine – eight swinging – and did not walk a batter.
“I tried to learn from the last time I faced them,” said Frohman, who will continue playing in college at Lehigh. “Coach (Matt) Rago had an excellent scouting report.
“It was to get ahead of the batters and establish an off-speed pitch to keep them off balance.”
GL faced Brignoni for the fourth time since last year.
“We wanted to shorten up our swings and put the ball in play,” Roof said. “There’s a reason why Brignoni had 53 strikeouts in 34 innings. He’s good. Union should not have been an eighth seed.”
Frohman echoed those sentiments.
“All the times we faced Brignoni before today were one-run games,” Frohman said. “He really battles. He’s a great pitcher.”
GL defeated Union for the third time in three tries this year, including the first two in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play.
GL won for the second straight time to improve to 12-3, while Union – which had a two-game winning streak snapped and had won three of five – slipped to 3-11.
Still seeking its first UCT crown, GL is back where it was last year – the Highlanders were also the top seed in 2014 – and now have another opportunity to break through.
“We put ourselves in a position to win,” Frohman said. “We’re not overlooking anyone. We’ve done a good job of getting to where we want to be.”
NOTES: For the first time since 2007 the semifinals do not include Westfield and/or Scotch Plains.
Westfield made the semifinals seven straight seasons from 2008-2014.
GL previously made the semifinals under roof in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2014. The Highlanders, 0-4 in the final overall, reached the final under Roof in 2007, 2011 and 2014.
62nd ANNUAL BASEBALL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
SEEDS: 1-Gov. Livingston. 2-Scotch Plains. 3-Cranford
4-Johnson, 5-Elizabeth 6-Westfield. 7-Dayton. 8-Union.
9-Roselle Park. 10-Summit. 11-New Providence. 12-Linden.
13-Union Catholic. 14-Rahway. 15-Oratory Prep. 16-Brearley.
17-Plainfield. 18-Roselle Catholic. 19-Hillside.
Wednesday, April 22
Oratory Prep 4, Roselle Catholic 3
Thursday, April 23
Rahway 11, Hillside 1
Brearley 8, Plainfield 3
Saturday, April 25
Union 5, Roselle Park 0
Summit 6, Dayton 5
Cranford 11, Rahway 0
Gov. Livingston 4, Brearley 0
Elizabeth 7, Linden 6
Johnson 9, Union Catholic 1
Westfield 7, New Providence 0
Scotch Plains 12, Oratory Prep 1
Wednesday, April 29
Johnson 11, Elizabeth 2
Gov. Livingston 12, Union 0
Cranford 4, Westfield 2
Summit 8, Scotch Plains 7
Saturday, May 2
At Elizabeth’s Williams Field
10-Summit vs. 3-Cranford, 1:30 p.m.
4-Johnson vs. 1-Gov. Livingston, 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 9
At Kean University
Semifinal winners, 2:30 p.m.
UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
2014: Westfield 5, Gov. Livingston 3
WP: Brad DeMartino. LP: Ethan Frohman.
2013: Cranford 8, Westfield 0
WP: Ryan Williamson. LP: Kevin Galasso.
2012: Westfield 13, Union 3
WP: Mike Mondon. LP: Devin Zimmerman.
2011: Cranford 14, Gov. Livingston 1
WP: Kurt Rutmayer. LP: Joey Graziano.
2010: Cranford 6, Westfield 5
WP: Ryan Williamson. LP: Aiden Scanlon.
2009: Scotch Plains 2, Westfield 1 (10 inn.)
WP: Gary Binkiewicz. LP: Aiden Scanlon.
2008: Elizabeth 4, Westfield 2
WP: Gio Caraballo. LP: Chris Jenkins.
2007: Cranford 7, Gov. Livingston 1
WP: Dan Moreno. LP: Anthony Corsi.
2006: Westfield 9, Roselle Catholic 0
WP: Craig Ellis. LP: Nick Nolan.
2005: Roselle Catholic 6, Dayton 2
WP: Nick Nolan. LP: York Cook.
2004: Scotch Plains 3, Roselle Catholic 1
WP: James Scalfaro. LP: Nick Nolan.
2003: Cranford 7, Linden 4
WP: Brian Ciencin. LP: Mike Loureiro
2002: Westfield 7, Johnson 4
WP: Jay Cook. LP: Drew Thomas.
2001: Cranford 11, Plainfield 1
WP: Tom Polito. LP: Eladio Ortiz.
2000: Cranford 10, Rahway 0
WP: Tom Polito. LP: Steve Brown.
1999: Cranford 6, New Providence 5
WP: Tom Polito. LP: Todd Simo.
1998: Summit 5, Cranford 4
WP: Jared Chellevold. LP: Steve Brown.
1997: Westfield 7, Summit 1
WP: Matt Williams. LP: Jared Chellevold
1996: Westfield 7, Gov. Livingston 1
WP: Brian Ciemniecki. LP: Eric Brown.
1995: Westfield 3, Elizabeth 0
WP: Kris Williams. LP: Al Hawkins
1994: Westfield 7, Elizabeth 5
WP: Chris Vogel. LP: Al Hawkins
1993: Union 5, Westfield 3
WP: Eric Shaw. LP: Chris Vogel.
1992: Summit 10, Linden 4
WP: Garth Ballantyne. LP: Bryan Kosiba.
1991: Elizabeth 10, Westfield 1
WP: Pat Migliore. LP: John Fox.
1990: Rahway 2, Elizabeth 0
WP: Pat Jackson. LP: Pat Migliore.
1989: Elizabeth 7, Linden 2
WP: Charlie Garcia. LP: Ariel Lopez.
1988: Brearley 8, Rahway 1
WP: Mike Chalenski. LP: Frank Jones.
1987: Westfield 13, Elizabeth 12
WP: Clint Factor. LP: Greg Randazza.
1986: Westfield 9, Linden 6
WP: Clint Factor. LP: Rob Shaloub.
1985: Elizabeth 7, Union 5
WP: Fred Gamboa. LP: Mike Lawlor.
1984: Union Catholic 6, Elizabeth 5
WP: Greg Lepore. LP: Chris Wnek.
1983: Elizabeth 9, Westfield 8
WP: Angel Hajie. LP: Rob Rotunda.
1982: Linden 3, Elizabeth 2
WP: Tony Melise. LP: Laz Alfonso.
1981: New Providence 2, Union 1
WP: Steve Gelmine. LP: John Rubinetti.
1980: Johnson 5, New Providence 2
WP: Ken Petren. LP: Steve Gelmine.
1979: Summit 2, St. Mary’s 0
WP: John Murray. LP: Belamino Suarez.
1978: Westfield 3, Cranford 2
WP: K.C. Knobloch. LP: Scott Kley.
1977: New Providence 6, Westfield 1
WP: Doug Rillo. LP: K.C. Knobloch.
1976: Scotch Plains 1, Cranford 0
WP: Eddie Reilly. LP: Jim Carsey.
1975: Union 15, Cranford 0
WP: Frank Araneo. LP: Joe Gachko.
1974: St. Patrick’s 5, Union 3
WP: Bob Hynes. LP: Frank Araneo.
1973: Union 1, Johnson 0
WP: Bob Hughes. LP: Bob Schwankert.
1972: Summit 1, Union 0
WP: Mike Reid. LP: Stan Jakubowski.
1971: Roselle Catholic 3, Cranford 0
WP: Tom Byrnes. LP: Steve Gachko.
1970: Union 4, Jefferson 0
WP: Neil Gold. LP: Bob Brescher.
1969: Scotch Plains 5, Cranford 2
WP: Dave Klaatava. LP: Dan Costanzo.
1968: Westfield 2, Union 1
WP: Frank Tokash. LP: Sandy Weber.
1967: Union 17, Jefferson 2
WP: Jim Clee. LP: Jim Cowen.
1966: Westfield 13, Roselle 1
WP: Don Anderson. LP: Terry Arendt.
1965: Union 10, Westfield 2
WP: Al Santorini. LP: Greg Chlan.
1964: Union 3, Roselle 0
WP: Al Santorini. LP: Sal Riggi.
1963: Westfield 5, Springfield 4
WP: Jim Smith. LP: Bill Kretzger.
1962: Union 3, Jefferson 1
WP: Bob Castiglione. LP: Bob Krok.
1961: Rahway 6, Linden 5
WP: Tom Hoagland. LP: Ray Crepeau.
1960: Linden 4, St. Mary’s 2
WP: Ed Apalanski. LP: Rich Burke.
1959: St. Mary’s 7, Rahway 2
WP: Bill Henry. LP: Rich Kiehn.
1958: Rahway 3, Roselle 1
WP: Thelmore James. LP: Ed Jones.
1957: Linden 7, Rahway 5
WP: Frank Russo. LPK Fred Kast.
1956: Rahway 4, Scotch Plains 0
WP: Fred Henderson. LP: Bill Booth.
1955: Jefferson 4, Linden 0
WP: Richie Jones. LP: Ron Perry
1954: Springfield 4, Jefferson 2
WP: Joe Schaffernoth. LP: Richie Jones.