Governor Livingston baseball team winning its first UCT title is the pick here for ‘Sports Story of the Year in Union County for 2016’

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – The GL baseball team captured its first UCT championship by beating top-seeded Scotch Plains 3-2 at Kean.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – GL coaches, from left with the UCT trophy, Dan Mondelli, Chris Roof, John Mahon and Matt Rago.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – GL head coach Chris Roof has winning pitcher Brian Cranston at his right and Josh Katz, who had game-winning hit, at his left after GL’s semifinal win over Westfield.

My pick for “Sports Story of the Year in Union County for 2016” is the Governor Livingston baseball team winning the Union County Tournament for the first time and how the Highlanders managed to do so.
Third-seeded GL – in back-to-back days at Kean University on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 – defeated second-seeded Westfield 4-3 in nine innings in the semifinals and then top-seeded Scotch Plains 3-2 in the final.
GL did not produce an extra-base hit in either game and was out-hit in both, 11-9 by Westfield and 10-3 by Scotch Plains.
Here is my story from the semifinals first and what follows after that is my story from the final.
Enjoy, I hope, once again.

It will be GL vs. Scotch Plains for baseball UCT championship; Highlanders win high-drama thriller, Raiders come back to oust defending champs
By JR Parachini on May 14, 2016
Title game less than 24 hours back at Kean

UNION – To steal a line from Andy Williams: “Where do I begin?”

Saturday’s baseball Union County Tournament semifinals at Kean University were filled with such intense drama that it seemed like a book could be written about any pitch or play you want to talk about.

Here are the immediate, irrefutable, easy-to-digest facts.

It will be third-seeded Governor Livingston (15-7) vs. top-seeded Scotch Plains (14-8) in Sunday’s 63rd annual baseball UCT championship game.

In Saturday’s semifinals at Kean it was top-seeded Scotch Plains coming back twice to oust fourth-seeded and defending champion Cranford 8-5 before third-seeded GL found a way to win in extra innings after giving up a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, topping second-seeded Westfield 4-3 in nine.

First pitch at Kean University’s Jim Hynes Stadium in Union is scheduled for roughly 2 p.m., following the 11 a.m. junior varsity UCT championship game between second-seeded GL and top-seeded Westfield.

Before explanations are in order pertaining to both semifinal thrillers, here are some tidbits to pick up on:

*Winning teams Scotch Plains and GL both successfully executed their first suicide squeeze attempts, Scotch Plains pulling to within 3-2 of Cranford in the bottom of the second behind a bunt hit toward third by Jake Canavan that scored George Leichtling and GL taking a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh over Westfield when Brian Cranston bunted the ball toward first base to drive in Will Jennings with what turned out to be a huge insurance run. GL failed on its second squeeze attempt in the top of the ninth, but ultimately survived the missed opportunity.

*GL, with 0 UCT titles, took out Westfield, with the most titles at 14, to reach the championship game for the third straight season. GL is 0-5 in the final, with the only team to ever lose three straight finals being Westfield when the Blue Devils lost to Elizabeth in 2008, Scotch Plains in 2009 and to Cranford in 2010. GL lost to Westfield in the 2014 final and to Cranford in the 2015 title game. This is the first time GL is playing Scotch Plains in the final. GL reached its first final 20 years ago, falling to Westfield in the 1996 title game, which was the third of a record four straight years that Westfield won the crown (1994-1997).

*Westfield had an 18-game, school-record winning streak snapped, falling to 18-4. The Blue Devils won 18 straight after a 0-3 start, with win No. 18 coming at home Thursday against conference-crossover foe Dayton 5-4. Westield needed two runs in the bottom of the seventh vs. the visiting Bulldogs to set the mark. According to head coach Bob Brewster, at the helm of the Blue Devils since 1983, Westfield had 17-game winning streaks in 1995, 2012 and 2014 – all of them ending with state tournament setbacks.

*GL was swept by Westfield in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play, losing at Westfield 6-0 April 15 and then 13-0 at home on May 5. GL was also swept by Scotch Plains in UCC-Watchung play, falling 17-7 at Scotch Plains on April 6 and then 3-1 at home on April 19. So on Sunday, for a second straight day, GL will attempt to beat a team it was defeated by twice in two tries this season.

*Scotch Plains, which began its season at 4-0 and with division wins over Westfield, Cranford, GL and Union, came into Saturday’s game riding a four-game losing streak that saw the Raiders outscored 33-10 and shut out in their last two games. “We played badly and didn’t compete that well at all in any of those games,” Scotch Plains head coach Joe Higgins said.

*The semifinals were originally scheduled to be played May 1 at Kean and then the final on May 14 at Kean, with an unusual 13-day wait in between. However, because of the semifinals being rained out on May 1 and then again on May 7 at Elizabeth (Kean was not available last weekend), the semifinals and final are being contested – instead – with a 0-day wait, on back-to-back days for the first time.

In the first game, Scotch Plains overcame deficits of 3-0 and then 5-3 to reach the final for the first time since last winning the UCT in 2009. The Raiders have won the UCT four times, the first three times in 1969, 1976 and 2004.

Cranford, which had the first three batters of the day reach base on singles – the last two on bunt singles – to give the Cougars bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the first of the opening game, scored its five runs on three ground outs, a wild pitch and a throwing error. Driving in two of the runs on ground outs was No. 5 batter, junior Ryan Bakie, who also banged out Cranford’s only extra-base hit, an opposite field shot to right field that went for a standup triple with two outs in the top of the seventh.

Scotch Plains got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second after cleanup batter Matt Fox drilled an opposite field double to right-center and then designated hitter Tyler O’Brien drove him home with an RBI-single to left. The squeeze run that followed made it 3-2.

Scotch Plains tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the third on an opposite field RBI-double to right-center smacked by George Leichtling.

The Raiders tied the game again at 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth when George Mueller connected on a two-run double to center with runners on first and third with two outs. Then pinch-hitter Anthony DiNizo came through with an RBI-single up the middle to give the Raiders their first advantage and the lead for good at 6-5.

“I was looking to hit it through the zone,” DiNizo, a sophomore, said. “It’s hard to come off the bench and hit a fastball, but I just took a couple of deep breaths to help with the situation. I was able to hit a fastball right back up the middle.”

“Anthony only had about 15 at-bats so far this season coming in,” Higgins said. “He’s tough as nails and has had some huge at-bats for us.”

Scotch Plains produced two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, with No. 3 batter Peter Yarem delivering an RBI-triple with his shot going over the center fielder’s head. Yarem then scored on an RBI sacrifice fly to center hit by Fox.

O’Brien was 3-for-4 with three singles, one an infield single, and an RBI.

It’s very difficult to beat a team, no less a quality team, three times in three tries, but that’s what Scotch Plains did this year to defending UCT champion Cranford, which had a two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 13-8. The Raiders previously swept the Cougars in UCC-Watchung play, winning 7-0 at Scotch Plains on April 5 and then 10-1 at Cranford on May 3.

“Our kids were more confident after the first inning,” Higgins said.

Junior lefty Tim Geissel, in relief of starter Jake DeFouw, a senior right hander, earned the mound victory. He allowed no runs on two hits, while striking out three and walking none. Geissel threw 36 pitches.

“Not a lot affects Tim,” Higgins said. “He leads the team in appearances. He has ice in his veins and it showed today. He was unflappable.”

There were no extra-base hits in the GL-Westfield game. GL went from being one strike away on three consecutive batters in the bottom of the seventh from winning the game before extra innings to then having to get Westfield out in the bottom of the eighth without giving up a run, then find a way to score in the top of the ninth and then get Westfield out again in the bottom of the ninth to finally win the game.

That’s what happened.

Winning streaks and previous wins over your opponent for that day don’t really mean a lot, especially in baseball, a pitcher’s sport.

Junior left hander Nick Cocchia pitched well for GL, giving up just two runs in six innings, plus one batter. Even though first relief pitcher, junior right hander Cole Schneider, gave up Westfield’s third run, he was good enough to keep the game tied at 3-3 and still give his team a chance to win in extra innings.

GL survived hitting batters three times in the sixth, once in the seventh and once in the eighth.

“We just couldn’t get the big hit,” Westfield head coach Bob Brewster said. “Give GL credit. Their pitchers were good.”

GL’s strategy, according to head coach Chris Roof, was to pitch Westfield inside and try to jam them as much as possible.

“After playing them we thought we could prevent them from really getting around on the ball by pitching them inside,” Roof said. “If they were able to still get around on our pitches, then we tip our cap to them.”

GL took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on an opposite field RBI-single to left hit by Will Jennings.

The Highlanders made it 2-0 in the top of the fifth when leadoff batter Josh Katz drove in a run with a single up the middle.

Westfield finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Kobi Wolf reached on an infield single with runners on second and third and two outs. It was a close play at first as it appeared he just beat out a throw from third on a slow roller.

After GL produced the insurance run in the top of the seventh that made it 3-1, the bottom of the seventh was classic nailbiting time in a do-or-die baseball game that should be remembered for some time.

Here’s how the bottom of the seventh unfolded: Bobby Abbott, Westfield’s No. 9 batter, singled up the middle on the first pitch thrown by Cocchia. It was also his last, with Roof going to Schneider.

Leadoff batter J Mack Rembisz grounded out to Schneider, with Abbott moving to second. Schneider then hit a Westfield pinch hitter in the foot, with that baserunner lifted for a pinch runner. Now it’s first and second and one out.

Standout senior and Holy Cross-bound Chris Rinaldi fouled out to first on the seventh pitch of his at-bat, with Westfield now down to its final out. Then cleanup batter Matt Barmakian produced an at-bat to remember for a long time.

Barmakian fouled off five pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat that saw his team one strike away from losing on more than one occasion. Then Barmakian actually struck out.

However, the ball was not cleanly caught by the GL catcher, with his throw to first base not being cleanly handled by the GL first baseman. Barmakian was safe at first and now the bases were loaded with two outs.

Although Roof argued runner’s interference, Barmakian was in the correct path to first base and not out of the runner’s box.

Next up was Victor Cruz, who was even in the count at 2-2 and had also fouled another pitch off. Again, Westfield is one strike away from losing or GL is one strike away from winning – however, you want to put it.

Then, before you know it, Schneider gets called for a balk, with the second Westfield run crossing home plate. Now it’s 3-2 GL, with runners on second and third.

On a full count and on the eighth pitch of the Cruz at-bat, Schneider walked him, loading the bases again.

Schneider then walked Wolf on another full count, with the third Westfield run crossing the plate. The game is now tied for the first time at 3-3 and Wolf had his second RBI.

To his credit, Schneider kept on battling and was able to retire J.D. Marner on a ground out to him, with Schneider moving to his right to glove the ball and then throw to first. His low throw was nicely scooped up by GL first baseman Matt Bruno and off we went to extra innings.

GL was retired 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth by Westfield sophomore lefty Cory Hiltz. Westfield then came back with first and second and two outs before GL’s third pitcher, senior righty Brian Cranston, retired Rinaldi on a ground out to third. GL third baseman Drew Compton made a nice scoop and throw and then the GL first baseman made a nifty stretch to keep his foot on the bag.

The Highlanders then managed the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the ninth after Cocchia’s second hit, a line drive single by Tyler McCulloch and a walk to Will Jennings on a full count of another 10-pitch at-bat the game saw.

Hiltz then retired GL’s next two batters before Katz came through with his second run-scoring single of the afternoon.

“This was such an intense and aggressive game,” Katz said. “They beat us twice and it’s not easy to beat a team three times.”

Katz hit Hiltz’s second offering, a single to left that brought home the go-ahead and, eventually, winning run.

“On the first pitch I wanted a fastball, but he threw me a curve,” Katz said. “The second pitch was a fastball right there in my zone. Coach Roof says to just breathe, so I took a deep breath and the rest is history.”

Cranston retired Westfield 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth on just seven pitches to clinch GL’s ninth UCT win in the past three seasons.

“After Westfield tied the game in the bottom of the seventh we were still confident and ready to go in the eighth (inning),” Cranston said. “Westfield is a great team and there were some crazy moments there.

“We didn’t dwell on what Westfield did. It took all of our effort to win this game.”

Cranston and Katz – senior captains along with Matt Bruno – played big roles in helping lead GL to last year’s Group 2 state championship, the program’s third.

“They were both in Toms River last year and our other players take their lead from them,” Roof said.

Both Higgins and Roof agree it’s a good thing to be playing the championship game the very next day.

“We went from not playing that well to coming back and winning this game, so we’re ready to go,” Higgins said.

“We would definitely rather play tomorrow (the next day) than wait a week, even if it means not having our pitching quite set,” Roof said. “Baseball is such a game of emotions. Our kids are fired up and will be ready to try to beat another team we lost to twice.

“This was a great baseball game, obviously better for us because we won, and this also takes years off your (baseball) life.

“We’re going to go out tomorrow and just play and the better team will win.”

 

 

FIRST UCT BASEBALL SEMIFINAL AT KEAN UNIVERSITY

4-Cranford (13-8) 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 – 5 09 1

1-Scotch Plains (14-8) 0 2 1 0 1 2 x – 8 11 1

 

WINNING PITCHER: Tim Geissel, junior LH

 

LOSING PITCHER: Gordon Graceffo, sophomore RH

 

GAME-WINNING HIT: RBI-single up the middle by pinch hitter Anthony DiNizo to make the score 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. It was Scotch Plains’ first lead.

 

SINGLES:

Cranford – Jim Shriner (2), Joe Norton, Brian Oblachinski (bunt),

Garrett Forrestal (bunt), Tom Feeney, Mike Smith, Tom Armstrong (bunt).

Scotch Plains – Tyler O’Brien (3, one an infield), Jake Canavan (bunt), Colin McAlindin, Anthony DiNizo,

 

DOUBLES:

Cranford – None.

Scotch Plains – Matt Fox, George Leichtling, Peter Yarem, George Mueller.

 

TRIPLES:

Cranford – Ryan Bakie.

Scotch Plains – Peter Yarem.

 

HOME RUNS:

Cranford – None.

Scotch Plains – None.

 

 

SECOND UCT BASEBALL SEMIFINAL AT KEAN UNIVERSITY

3-Gov. Livingston (15-7) 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 – 4 8 1

2-Westfield (18-4) 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 – 3 6 2

WINNING PITCHER: Brian Cranston, senior RH

 

LOSING PITCHER: Cory Hiltz, sophomore LH

 

GAME-WINNING HIT: RBI-single to left field by leadoff batter Josh Katz with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth, giving GL’s its second and final winning lead of 4-3.

 

SINGLES:

Gov. Livingston – Josh Katz (2), Nick Cocchia (2), Will Jennings (2), Tyler McCulloch (2).

Westfield – Bobby Abbott (2), Chris Rinaldi, Matt Barmakian, Kobi Wolf, Jacob Kurstedt.

 

DOUBLES:

Gov. Livingston – None.

Westfield – None.

 

TRIPLES:

Gov. Livingston – None.

Westfield – None.

 

HOME RUNS:

Gov. Livingston – None.

Westfield – None.

 

SATURDAY’S STARTING LINEUPS:

4-CRANFORD COUGARS:

2-Joe Norton, catcher, senior

35-Brian Oblachinski, second base, junior

4-Garrett Forrestal, left field, senior

36-Mike Smith, shortstop, senior

15-Ryan Bakie, center field, junior

55-Tom Armstrong, designated hitter, junior

21-Matt Perrino, third base, junior

10-Tom Feeney, first base, senior

13-Jim Shriner, right field, freshman

60-Chris Librera, pitcher, junior (did not bat)

 

1-SCOTCH PLAINS RAIDERS:

20-Peter Warren, shortstop, junior

18-Colin McAlindin, right field, junior

25-Peter Yarem, catcher, junior

6-Matt Fox, first base, junior

5-Tyler O’Brien, designated hitter, senior

15-George Leichtling, center field, senior

7-George Mueller, third base, junior

34 Sam Schetelich, second base, sophomore

9-Jake Canavan, left field, junior

21-Jack DeFouw, pitcher, senior (did not bat)

 

3-GOV. LIVINGSTON HIGHLANDERS:

3-Josh Katz, center field, senior

25-Jace Tweeten, designated hitter, junior

2-Drew Compton, third base, freshman

10-Dan Baroff, catcher, junior

30-Nick Cocchia, pitcher, junior

13-Tyler McCulloch, left field, sophomore

26-Will Jennings, right field, sophomore

23-Matt Bruno, first base, senior

12-Brian Cranston, second base, senior

21-Vin Doren, shortstop, junior (did not bat)

 

2-WESTFIELD BLUE DEVILS:

17-J Mack Rembisz, center field, senior

1-Jacob Kurstedt, left field, senior

12-Chris Rinaldi, shortstop, senior

24-Matt Barmakian, third base, senior

21-Victor Cruz, first base, junior

15-Kobi Wolf, designated hitter, junior

7-J.D. Marner, right field, senior

11-Devin Anderson, catcher, senior

8-Bobby Abbott, second base, senior

6-Alex Pansini, pitcher, junior (did not bat)

GL baseball holds on to capture first UCT championship; Doren goes distance to improve to 3-0
By JR Parachini on May 15, 2016

Highlanders outhit 10-3, but took advantage of Scotch Plains miscues

UNION – It was nine years ago when on a Sunday night in Linden the Governor Livingston baseball team had a bad seventh inning and went home without the trophy.

It was five years ago when the Highlanders got 10-run ruled by the same team it lost to nine years ago in the title game played right here at Kean.

And it was just two years ago and then again last year that GL lost close title games and fell short once again in an attempt to win the county championship for the first time.

All that is forgotten now after GL’s baseball program produced one of its best days ever Sunday.

On the 20th anniversary of the Highlanders reaching their first UCT championship game, not only did the varsity capture its first county championship – it got scary again, with GL throwing out the tying run at the plate for the second out in the bottom of the seventh – but right before it did so the junior varsity garnered its first county crown.

It was a special sweep for the Highlanders Sunday at Jim Hynes Stadium in Union, with the third-seeded varsity team holding on for a thrilling 3-2 win over top-seeded Scotch Plains in the 63rd annual UCT championship game. Before that, GL’s second-seeded junior varsity team won its UCT championship game over top-seeded and three-time defending champion Westfield 10-0 in five innings.

Junior right hander Vin Doren went the distance for GL in the varsity game, winning his fourth start of the season and improving to 3-0.

Sophomore left hander Ryan Monroy pitched a five-inning shutout to lead the JV Highlanders for head coach Sam Politan. GL scored eight runs in the top of the first and two more in the second.

For the varsity it turned out that the sixth time was the charm and the fifth time for head coach Chris Roof, who was 0-4 in the UCT final before Sunday and who was also on head coach Bill Howard’s staff when GL reached its first final in 1996.

“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Roof, a 1992 GL graduate, said. “We fought through adversity and had a heck of a weekend here. We weren’t intimidated by either Westfield or Scotch Plains after losing to them before.”

It was quite a feat that GL pulled off to gain its first county crown after falling five previous times in the final.

Here’s a closer look:

In back-to-back days, GL took out the second seed – Westfield on Saturday – first after losing to the Blue Devils 6-0 and 13-0 in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play. GL then took out the top seed – Scotch Plains on Sunday – after losing to the Raiders 17-7 and 3-1 in UCC-Watchung action.

So after being previously 0-4 vs. Westfield and Scotch Plains and losing those division games by a combined total of 39-8, GL outscored the two 7-5 over the weekend to go 2-0 against them en route to a first-ever UCT championship.

And what might be the most amazing statistics are that GL was out-hit in both games this weekend – Westfield by an 11-9 margin and Scotch Plains by a whopping 10-3 count – and the Highlanders did not produce one single extra-base hit in either game, yet they still managed to come out on top.

You can point to pitching. On Saturday vs. Westfield it was junior lefty Nick Cocchia for six innings, junior righty Cole Schneider for one and Brian Cranston, a senior right hander, for two.

On Sunday it was junior right hander Vin Doren for all seven. Doren gave up two runs while scattering 10 hits. He struck out five, including two in the seventh inning that included the game’s final batter, walked only one, hit a batter and threw one wild pitch.

Doren was in control for the entire 98-pitch complete game, mixing his pitches well enough to get crucial outs at times when Scotch Plains had opportunities to produce big innings.

“I had trouble with my secondary pitch at the start, but found my curve late,” said Doren, who attended St. Peter’s Prep his freshman year. “I also found my changeup, which was huge, late in the game.”

That was the pitch he used to strike out the game’s final batter right after a 9-3-2 relay from right fielder Nick Cocchia to first baseman DJ Gonnella to catcher Dan Baroff cut down what would have been the tying run at the plate for the second out in the bottom of the seventh.

“I was very focused and had a lot of confidence,” Doren said. “(Pitching) Coach (Matt) Rago, he made a lot of big calls.”

Rago, a 2008 GL graduate and former Highlander standout, saw Doren master three pitches that worked in his favor.

“He did a great job, throwing his curve and change at any point in time, with both pitches coming off a fastball he had command of,” Rago said. “He established his off speed pitch early in the count and in the last two innings got out of jams while not being afraid to pitch to contact.”

Doren retired four of the first five batters he faced and was not scored upon until one out in the fourth when George Leichtling drove in Tyler O’Brien with an RBI-double just inside the line to left field.

GL took a 1-0 lead in the third when Matt Bruno scored on a wild pitch with two outs.

GL leadoff batter Josh Katz gave the Highlanders the lead for good with an RBI-single up the middle in the fifth, making the score 2-1. GL produced that run, which was unearned, after its first two batters were retired.

Katz had two hits in each weekend victory, including the game-winning hit in both.

GL plated a very important insurance run in the sixth when Dan Baroff led off by reaching on an infield error. After a steal of second base, Nick Cocchia did his job by moving the runner to third with a ground out to second.

GL’s next batter reached on another infield error, with the runner from third scoring to make it 3-1 Highlanders.

Doren allowed a hit by O’Brien in the sixth, but got out of further trouble by retiring the inning’s last two batters on a pop up to first and a 6-4 fielder’s choice grounder at second.

Scotch Plains had first and second and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh after a leadoff single to left by pinch hitter Anthony DiNizo and a bunt single toward third by Jake Canavan. For the second straight game DiNizo came off the bench to produce a big hit and was 2-for-2 on the weekend, including Saturday’s game-winning hit.

Doren then struck out the next batter looking before giving up an opposite field infield single to Colin McAlindin, which loaded the bases.

After surviving a run-scoring, opposite field hit to short right by Peter Yarem that drove in just one run, with the second runner tagged out at home, Doren struck out the game’s final batter and then the GL celebration followed.

“He manned up,” Roof said of Doren’s performance. “He just competed. He has to get his curveball over.

“He wasn’t afraid of this stage, which is why I went with him. The key was him getting his off speed pitch over. Once he did that I knew we were in good shape.”

“We battled,” Higgins said. “This was fun the last two days. GL deserves it. Coach Roof and his staff, I admire them.”

Higgins, conversely, used four pitchers, including starter Vincent Conte, a senior righty, into the fourth, junior right hander Marc Occhipinti into the fifth, junior lefty Tim Geissel into the seventh and then freshman left hander Dan Wilkinson for the final out, which saw him strike out the only batter he faced looking on a fine off speed pitch.

“Our four pitchers did a nice job and deserved better,” Higgins said. “Conte walked two guys in a row (in the fourth). Occhipinti has good control and we knew we could get Geissel in even though he pitched yesterday.”

It was one of the four Scotch Plains errors that led to GL’s second run after there were two outs and nobody on in the top of the fifth.

“We had just tied it and that error did change the momentum, definitely,” Higgins said. “It definitely gave them a lift.”

NOTES: GL assistant coach Dan Mondelli, a 1982 GL graduate, was also an assistant coach on Ray Korn’s staff at Elizabeth when the Minutemen captured the 1989 and 1991 UCT titles. Mondelli was an assistant coach at Elizabeth from 1986-2001 before head coaching stints at Linden and Holmdel and another assistant coach position at Old Bridge. Mondelli guided the 2003 Linden team to the UCT final where the Tigers lost to Cranford.

 

 

63rd ANNUAL BASEBALL UCT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

3-Gov. Livingston (16-7) 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 – 3 03 0

1-Scotch Plains (14-9) 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 – 2 10 4

WINNING PITCHER: Vin Doren, junior RH

 

LOSING PITCHER: Marc Occhipinti, junior RH (in relief)

 

GAME-WINNING HIT: Leadoff batter Josh Katz came through in the clutch again, producing GL’s winning hit for the second consecutive game. This time Katz snapped a 1-1 tie by delivering a single up the middle to center field that scored Brian Cranston from second with two outs in the top of the fifth, giving GL the lead for the second time and for good at 2-1.

 

DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME: With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Scotch Plains is trailing 3-1 and looking to produce a comeback victory to gain its fifth UCT title and first since 2009. GL starter Vin Doren challenged Scotch Plains No. 3 batter Peter Yarem and got him to hit the ball the other way. A fly ball to right field dunked in ahead of GL right fielder Nick Cocchia, who scooped up the ball on one bounce and threw it to first baseman DJ Gonnella. Although one run scored to make it 3-2, Gonnella threw home to get the runner trying to score from second, which he did, with catcher Dan Baroff applying the tag a moment before home plate umpire Rich Badillo called Jake Canavan “out” at the plate. “That was the play of the game,” GL head coach Chris Roof said. “If Scotch Plains scores there and ties the game, who knows what would have happened.” “It was kind of a tough read the fly ball, but I send Canavan about every time,” Scotch Plains head coach Joe Higgins said. “If you would have told me in the beginning of the season that we would be in that spot – win or lose – in the bottom of the seventh of the (UCT) championship game I would have gladly taken it.” Doren retired the next batter on strikes to clinch GL’s first-ever UCT championship.

 

SINGLES:

Gov. Livingston – Josh Katz (2), Jace Tweeten (bunt).

Scotch Plains – Colin McAlindin (2), Tyler O’Brien (2), George Leichtling, Jake Canavan (bunt), Anthony DiNizo, Peter Yarem.

 

DOUBLES:

Gov. Livingston – None.

Scotch Plains – George Leichtling, Peter Warren.

 

TRIPLES:

Gov. Livingston – None.

Scotch Plains – None.

 

HOME RUNS:

Gov. Livingston – None.

Scotch Plains – None.

 

 

SUNDAY’S UCT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

STARTING LINEUPS:

3-GOV. LIVINGSTON HIGHLANDERS:

3-Josh Katz, senior center fielder

26-Will Jennings, sophomore second baseman

2-Drew Compton, freshman third baseman

10-Dan Baroff, junior catcher

30-Nick Cocchia, junior right fielder

13-Tyler McCulloch, sophomore left fielder

23-Matt Bruno, senior first baseman

12-Brian Cranston, senior shortstop

25-Jace Tweeten, junior designated hitter

21-Vin Doren, junior pitcher (did not bat)

 

1-SCOTCH PLAINS RAIDERS:

20-Peter Warren, junior shortstop

18-Colin McAlindin, junior right fielder

25-Peter Yarem, junior catcher

6-Matt Fox, junior first baseman

5-Tyler O’Brien, senior designated hitter

15-George Leichtling, senior center fielder

7-George Mueller, junior third baseman

34-Sam Schetelich, sophomore second baseman

9-Jake Canavan, junior left fielder

24-Vince Conti, senior pitcher (did not bat)

 

 

63rd ANNUAL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

SEEDS: 1-Scotch Plains. 2-Westfeld. 3-Gov. Livingston. 4-Cranford.

5-Union. 6-Elizabeth. 7-Johnson. 8-New Providence. 9-Union Catholic.

10-Summit. 11-Plainfield. 12-Dayton. 13-Oratory Prep. 14-Roselle Catholic.

15-Roselle Park. 16-Brearley. 17-Rahway. 18-Linden.

 

PRELIMINARY ROUND:

Thursday, April 21

Linden 13, Roselle Park 1

Brearley 17, Rahway 16

 

FIRST ROUND:

Saturday, April 23

Scotch Plains 6, Brearley 2

Union Catholic 5, New Providence 1

Cranford 8, Oratory Prep 3

Dayton 9, Union 7

Westfield 14, Linden 1

Summit 10, Johnson 8

Elizabeth 7, Plainfield 2

Gov. Livingston 11, Roselle Catholic 1

 

QUARTERFINALS:

Wednesday, April 27

Scotch Plains 4, Union Catholic 2

Westfield 11, Summit 1

Gov. Livingston 10, Elizabeth 5

Cranford 11, Dayton 7

 

SEMIFINALS:

Saturday, May 14

At Kean University

Scotch Plains 8, Cranford 5

Gov. Livingston 4, Westfield 3 (9 inn.)

 

FINAL:

Sunday, May 15

At Kean University

Gov. Livingston 3, Scotch Plains 2

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