Cranford, Dayton baseball successful this time of year; GL, Roselle Catholic, Scotch Plains in mix as well

States continue for Union County squads on May 26

When it comes time to getting ready to play a big baseball game immediately after Memorial Day, you can count on Cranford and Dayton to be in the mix.

Cranford is seeking a fourth straight North 2, Group 3 championship, while Dayton is after a third consecutive North 2, Group 1 crown.

Other Union County squads joining them in the fray this week include Scotch Plains, Governor Livingston and Roselle Catholic.

Cranford, Dayton, Scotch Plains – in North 2, Group 4 – and GL – in Central Jersey, Group 2 – will play in sectional semifinal contests Tuesday.

Roselle Catholic – in Non-Public, South B – will compete in a sectional quarterfinal contest, also on Tuesday.

Players come and go at Cranford, but the results pretty much stay the same. The Cougars win 20 games or more and vie for division, county and section success on an annual basis.

Cranford, which is the top seed in N2, G3 for the fourth straight year and will host fourth-seeded West Essex Tuesday, is 20-4, including 18-2 since a 2-2 start.

Even more impressive is that the Cougars, led this year on the mound by senior lefty Pat Knight and sophomore right hander Chris Librera, are 19-1 in sectional games this decade, including 18-1 at home and 1-0 on the road. Cranford has won its last 14 sectional games since falling at home to Mendham in the 2011 quarterfinals.

Cranford defeated West Essex 14-4 in last year’s final. West Essex won the Group 2 state championship in 2010 and reached the final again in 2011 after capturing North 2, Group 2 crowns those two seasons.

Cranford has won N2, G3 the last three seasons and four of the past five and is now two wins away from winning the section for the fifth time in the past six years.

Not bad.

Dayton, sparked offensively this season by Noah Goldberg, Mike Iuliano, Andrew Lashuk and Chase Kimmel, has been almost as successful as Cranford this decade in terms of wins. This year’s 15-10 mark gives the Bulldogs 110 victories since 2010.

After falling in the N2, G1 semis in 2011 and 2012, Dayton captured the section in consecutive years for the first time in program history.

Also like Cranford, Dayton will be playing a familiar foe on Tuesday and in Bergen County again.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs will face top-seeded Ridgefield in a N2, G1 semifinal. Ridgefield – in heartbreaking fashion – ended Dayton’s 2012 and 2014 seasons in state tournament play.

In a game that was played over two days in 2012, Ridgefield edged Dayton 3-2 in eight innings in a N2, G1 semifinal at Ridgefield.

In last year’s Group 1 semifinal played at Ramapo College in Mahwah, Ridgefield came back from a four-run deficit to squeak past Dayton 6-5, scoring the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

The game was played for two innings on a Tuesday and then halted by rain. The game was then played over – from the beginning – on the next day.

“This year, more than ever, I’m proud to be back in the semifinals with this group,” Abbate said. “Beating New Providence and Roselle Park (in states already) were wins against two good teams. We’ll give Ridgefield another shot.”

Abbate said that Dayton’s top two pitchers, senior Andrew Lashuk (8-1) and Chase Kimmel (7-2), are ready to go. Lashuk tossed a three-hitter in blanking New Providence 5-0 in the first round. Kimmel hurled a seven-hitter in beating Roselle Park 12-4 in the quarterfinals.

“Ridgefield is very good, but in baseball you never know,” Abbate said. “We’ll try to get good pitching, play good defense and get timely hitting.”

Governor Livingston is seeking to capture CJ, G2 for the second time in five seasons. The Highlanders, sparked on the mound by seniors Ethan Frohman (lefty) and Dan Belfer (righty) and slugging senior third baseman Ian Lynch, are 24-5 and two wins away from tying the program record for wins in a season. That was established the last time GL won CJ, G2, which was in 2011 when the Highlanders finished 26-6 after winning the Group 2 state championship for the second time.

GL will host an under-.500, 14th-seeded Matawan team on Tuesday, which is one that surprised fellow Union County school Johnson in the first round.

Scotch Plains, under first-year head coach Joe Higgins, is one win away from reaching a sectional final for the first time since 2009 when the Raiders fell at top-seeded Iselin Kennedy 6-3 in the North 2, Group 3 final.

The second-seeded Raiders, with a 21-7 record, will host sixth-seeded Ridge in a N2, G4 semifinal Tuesday, with the winner to play the winner of Tuesday’s other semifinal that consists of ninth-seeded Edison at fifth-seeded Millburn.

In its 4-0 quarterfinal win at home over 10th-seeded Watchung Hills Friday, Scotch Plains received a two-hitter from winning pitcher Chris Gibbons and a 2-for-4, one RBI performance from standout Zach Lipshitz.

Roselle Catholic will seek a second straight state tournament road victory Tuesday when it plays at Gill St. Bernard’s in a Non-Public, South B quarterfinal.

The Lions, who were previously shut out six times this year and are the owners of a 5-17 mark, received three hits each from Tom Kelly and Paul Hornsby in Friday’s 13-3 win at third-seeded Calvary Christian of Old Bridge. Calvary Christian entered the game with a 15-1 mark and started the season at 12-0.






North 2, Group 4 semifinals

Tuesday, May 26

9-Edison (13-16) at 5-Millburn (22-6)

6-Ridge (17-8-1) at 2-Scotch Plains (21-7)

Final is May 29 at higher seed.


North 2, Group 3 semifinals

Tuesday, May 26

4-West Essex (20-3) at 1-Cranford (20-4)

3-South Plainfield (20-8) at 2-Roxbury (21-7-1)

Final is May 29 at higher seed.


North 2, Group 1 semifinals

Tuesday, May 26

4-Dayton (15-10) at 1-Ridgefield (20-9)

6-Weehawken (20-8) at 2-Bloomfield Tech (18-5)

Final is May 29 at higher seed.


Central Jersey, Group 2 semifinals

Tuesday, May 26

5-Robbinsville (19-10) at 1-Cinnaminson (18-6)

14-Matawan (11-12) at 2-Governor Livingston (24-6)

Final is May 29 at higher seed.


Non-Public, South B quarterfinals

Tuesday, May 26

8-Pingry (16-10) at 1-Moorestown Friends (14-2)

5-Mater Dei (17-7) at 4-Marist (15-11)

14-Roselle Catholic (5-17) at 5-Gill St. Bernard’s (20-7)

10-Holy Spirit (10-5) at 2-St. Rose (16-6)

Semifinals are May 29 and final is June 2, all at higher seeds.







2015: Cranford is the top seed (2-0 so far).

May 18, first round at Cranford:

Cranford 9, Newark East Side 1

May 21, quarterfinals at Cranford:

Cranford 4, West Morris 3

May 26, semifinals at Cranford:

4-West Essex at 1-Cranford


2014: Cranford was the top seed (4-0).

May 19, first round at Cranford:

Cranford 3, Parsippany Hills 2

May 22, quarterfinals at Cranford:

Cranford 3, West Morris 0

May 27, semifinals at Cranford:

Cranford 2, Summit 1

May 30, final at Cranford:

Cranford 14, West Essex 4


2013: Cranford was the top seed (4-0).

May 20, first round at Cranford:

Cranford 7, Rahway 0

May 26, quarterfinals at Cranford:

Cranford 8, Summit 5

May 29, semifinals at Cranford:

Cranford 3, Mendham 2

May 31, final at Cranford:

Cranford 5, South Plainfield 1


2012: Cranford was the top seed (4-0).

May 23, first round at Cranford:

Cranford 5, Ferris 0

May 25, quarterfinals at Cranford:

Cranford 1, Scotch Plains 0

May 29, semifinals at Cranford:

Cranford 7, Morristown 1

June 1, final at Cranford:

Cranford 7, West Morris 0


2011: Cranford was the No. 2 seed (1-1).

May 23, first round at Cranford:

Cranford 13, Parsippany Hills 2

May 27, quarterfinals at Cranford:

Mendham 7, Cranford 3

Mendham was the 10th seed.


2010: Cranford was the No. 3 seed (4-0).

May 17, first round at Cranford:

Cranford 6, Voorhees 0

May 21, quarterfinals at Cranford:

Cranford 12, Iselin Kennedy 6

May 25, semifinals at Scotch Plains:

Cranford 6, Scotch Plains 5

May 28, final at Cranford:

Cranford 9, Morristown 8 (8 inn.)


Sectional record past six seasons: (19-1)

Home record: (18-1)

Away record: (1-0)