GL baseball improves to 11-0 behind fine pitching of Cocchia; Senior LH tosses 2-hitter, with 12 strikeouts

Highlanders top Watchung Division foe Scotch Plains with three runs in first and one more in second

BERKELEY HEIGHTS – Nicky Cocchia likes pitching at home.

He likes Mondays.

He likes winning.

Therefore, Cocchia likes to pitch on Mondays at home – and win.

This Monday on the hill he dominated like no other.

Wearing No. 30 instead of No. 27, Cocchia improved to 3-0 on the young season by winning his third start. All three of his starts have been at home on the past three Mondays and this one was the best.

Cocchia tossed a two-hit, complete-game shutout that included 12 strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter. His 112-pitch performance was good enough to slow down a Scotch Plains team that came to Berkeley Heights with a two-game winning streak and had won three of four.

Cocchia gave up an infield single to the first batter he faced and then with two outs and nobody on in the fourth he yielded an opposite field bloop single to right on a 1-2 count, leading the undefeated Governor Livingston baseball team to a 4-0 Union County Conference-Watchung Division triumph.

GL, ranked No. 2 in the state, improved to 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the Watchung Division. Scotch Plains slipped to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in the Watchung. GL will next play at Union Tuesday and then at Scotch Plains on Thursday.

It was the first time the teams met since GL defeated top-seeded Scotch Plains 3-2 in last year’s Union County Tournament championship game at Kean University.

GL will not only be the defending UCT champion for the first time, but will also be the top seed for this year’s event, which was seeded Monday night at Cranford.

Cocchia, who previously defeated Westfield 6-2 on April 10 – going 6 and 2/3 innings – and Union 10-0 on April 17 – going all five – had Scotch Plains batters off balance the entire game.

“I had everything going today,” Cocchia said. “Even more than my first two starts.”

That meant getting batters out with a rising fastball, a tricky curve and a sneaky changeup at times. Cocchia’s pitch count concluded at 112.

“He threw all his pitches for strikes,” Scotch Plains head coach Joe Higgins said. “He was really on.”

Cocchia joined senior right hander Vin Doren as GL pitchers with 3-0 records. Fellow senior RHs Cole Schneider and Sean Savage are both 2-0 and junior RH Liam Hulburt is 1-0.

“He’s done a great job so far and that’s what your No. 1 pitcher has to do in this league,” GL head coach Chris Roof said.

Scotch Plains sophomore left hander Danny Wilkinson (1-2) was almost as effective. In a six-inning, complete-game effort he tossed a four-hitter that included five strikeouts and five walks.

After allowing three runs on three hits in the first inning – only the first run was earned – Wilkinson then allowed just one hit after that. He had two of his strikeouts in the sixth inning as he appeared to get stronger near the end of a 111-pitch performance.

“He knew the kind of team he was facing today and he did a nice job,” Higgins said. “He’s been a bit of a tough luck pitcher so far. Against Bridgewater-Raritan he gave up just two runs in six innings.”

Wilkinson kept Scotch Plains in the game and gave the Raiders a chance to win. Perhaps against a pitcher other than Cocchia, Wilkinson might have gotten enough run support to gain his second victory.

Wilkinson beat Union 7-4 at home on April 11 and lost to BR 4-1 at home on April 19.

“He’s only a sophomore and he’s been kind of a bulldog for us so far,” Higgins said.

“He pitched really well,” Roof said.

GL began the bottom of the first with the lefty-swinging Cocchia, batting leadoff, belting an opposite field single to left. Jace Tweeten went in to run for him.

Danny Serretti walked and then Drew Compton hit a smash caught by shortstop Peter Warren, who threw to first for a double play.

Cleanup batter Dan Baroff picked up Compton by producing an RBI-single to center to make it 1-0. Designated hitter Stephen Reid then went the other way to right-center for an opposite field double that put runners on second and third.

GL’s next batter, lefty-swinging Will Jennings, then hit a ball in the infield that was misplayed, with the error leading to two unearned runs and a 3-0 Highlander lead.

GL scored the game’s fourth and final run on an infield error in the fourth.

Scotch Plains leadoff batter Jake Canavan produced his team’s infield single and Warren the opposite field hit.

Compton had the game’s final hit, a hard-hit single to right-center in the fifth.

Scotch Plains will next play at Westfield on Tuesday. The Raiders opened their season with a 9-3 home win over the Blue Devils on April 3.

 

 

UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-WATCHUNG DIVISION

Scotch Plains (6-6, 3-2)                   0     0     0       0     0     0       0 – 0  2  3

Gov. Livingston (11-0, 4-0)            3     1     0       0      0     0      x – 4  4  0

 

 

WINNING PITCHER:

Gov. Livingston senior LH Nicky Cocchia (3-0)

7 innings complete, 112 pitches: 0 runs, 2 hits,

12 strikeouts (7 swinging, 5 looking), 2 walks, 1 hit batter

1-2-3 innings: the third and fifth

Pitch count: 1-17. 2-21. 3-14. 4-13. 5-12. 6-16. 7-15. Total: 112.

 

LOSING PITCHER:

Scotch Plains sophomore LH Danny Wilkinson (1-2)

6 innings complete, 111 pitches: 4 runs (3 unearned), 4 hits,

5 strikeouts (3 swinging, 2 looking), 5 walks

1-2-3 inning: the fourth

Pitch count: 1-38. 2-14. 3-12. 4-14. 5-18. 6-15. Total: 111.

 

SINGLES:

Scotch Plains – Jake Canavan (infield), Peter Warren.

Gov. Livingston – Nicky Cocchia, Dan Baroff, Drew Compton.

 

DOUBLES:

Scotch Plains – None.

Gov. Livingston – Stephen Reid.

 

TRIPLES:

Scotch Plains – None.

Gov. Livingston – None.

 

HOME RUNS:

Scotch Plains – None.

Gov. Livingston – None.

 

 

SCOTCH PLAINS RAIDERS:

9-Jake Canavan, senior, center field

24-Patrick Downey, junior, left field

11-Spencer Vaughn, senior, pinch hitter

6-Matt Fox, senior, first base

21-Michael Dieu, designated hitter

10-Ryan Yawger, pinch hitter

22-Danny Wilkinson, sophomore, pitcher (did not bat)

20-Peter Warren, senior, shortstop

18-Colin McAlindin, senior, right field

15-Peter Yarem, senior, catcher

34-Sam Schetelich, junior, second base

2-Jonathan Ramos, second base

40-Matt Newman, pinch hitter

7-George Mueller, senior, third base

 

GOV. LIVINGSTON HIGHLANDERS:

30-Nicky Cocchia, senior, pitcher

25-Jace Tweeten, senior, courtesy runner

13-Danny Serretti, junior, shortstop

23-Drew Compton, sophomore, third base

2-Dan Baroff, senior, catcher

6-Stephen Reid, sophomore, designated hitter

45-Jack Pedini, junior, center field

26-Will Jennings, junior, right field

10-Tyler McCulloch, junior, left field

32-DJ Gonnelli, junior, first base

21-Vin Doren, senior, second base

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