BERKELEY HEIGHTS – Three pieces of the puzzle that helped lead the Governor Livingston baseball team to its first-ever No. 1 state ranking and then the program’s fourth Central Jersey, Group 2 state championship this past spring season made their college choices official.
On the first day of the national signing period Wednesday at GL, seniors Danny Serretti, Will Jennings and Tyler McCulloch signed their Division 1 letters-of-intent in front of family members, head coach Chris Roof and fellow teammates.
Serretti, one of the top shortstops in the state, will continue at North Carolina, while standout outfielders Jennings, right field, and McCulloch, left, will next play at Iona.
In this year’s highly-dramatic, come-from-behind CJ, G2 final victory at GL, Jennings, Jack Pedini and then Serretti scored on Dan Baroff’s shot to the left-center gap with two outs in the bottom of the seventh that give the Highlanders a 6-5 state championship victory.
The lefty-swinging Jennings led off the inning with single to center. Pedini entered as a pinch hitter and singled to left. McCulloch, batting leadoff that day, then bunted the runners over.
In the first inning, Serretti connected on a triple that brought home McCulloch with GL’s first run.
Serretti, Jennings and McCulloch have been on the varsity at GL for the program’s sectional, state and division (shared) titles in 2015, the first Union County Tournament crown in 2016 and this past season’s first 15-0 start, an outright division title and another state sectional championship.
Another GL standout that will play at the next level is first baseman DJ Gonnelli, who will continue at one of the finest Division 3 programs in the country – Montclair State University.
Serretti, who gave St. John’s a verbal commitment after his freshman season before he missed his entire sophomore campaign with an elbow injury that required surgery, decided to go a different direction this past summer.
“This summer there were some developments (St. John’s coaching staff) and I went down to Georgia and had a good tournament there,” Serretti said. “Obviously, North Carolina has an unbelievable tradition. When I was younger I always wanted to go there.”
After breaking away from St. John’s, Serretti said that he narrowed his choices to North Carolina and Georgia Tech, schools that he both visited, among others.
“When I visited North Carolina (this past July) and met (head) coach (Mike) Fox and coach (Scott) Forbes that solidified that was where I wanted to go,” Serretti said.
After Serretti helped lead GL to the 2015 Group 2 state championship his freshman season he had to watch his teammates produce the program’s first county title his sophomore campaign.
“It was excruciating, it hurt,” Serretti said of not being able to play in 2016. “I took not playing as a new perspective on the game.
“It was more like a coaching perspective, seeing where players should be at certain times in the game and really looking at the pitcher and how to attack each count. It really gave me a different look at the game.”
Serretti on being a baseball player at GL: “being a baseball player here is awesome, it’s a privilege. Being on one of the most successful sports teams, it’s fun. We get a lot of support and get some pretty good crowds. It’s almost like a college experience, actually.
“The coaches are great. They work their butts off to make our experience as great as possible. In terms of taking it to the next level, just look at the track record here.”
With aspirations of playing beyond North Carolina, Serretti could be faced with a possible MLB draft situation next June.
“If the circumstances were right then I would have to sit down with my parents and talk about it,” Serretti said. “Right now I’m just focused on this year and the spring and helping the team out.”
Jennings, not related to the Jennings that starred at GL before him, is excited to join an Iona program that this past season included nine players from New Jersey.
“Something about the school stood out, I could see myself there as a player,” Jennings said. “I thought it was a great fit all around. I plan to work hard and, hopefully, play four years.”
Pat Carey was named Iona’s head coach in July of 2005. This past season he was the MAAC Coach of the Year.
“Like Will, I really liked the campus when I went there and the coach, the first time I met him, I thought he was really great,” McCulloch said.
GL BASEBALL THE PAST 3 SEASONS:
Union County Conference-Watchung Division champions outright (8-2)
Central Jersey, Group 2 state champions for fourth time
Union County Tournament champions for first time
Union County Conference-Watchung Division co-champions (8-2)
Central Jersey, Group 2 state champions for third time
Group 2 state champions for third time
Set school record for wins in a season.