Johnson at GL for second straight season highlights May 5 UCT baseball quarterfinals; Cranford vs. Westfield a rematch of last year’s final

Other 2 contests include New Providence at Union and Elizabeth at Scotch Plains

PHOTO COURTESY OF JACK HADDAD – GL is sparked on the mound by senior left hander DJ Gonnelli (3-0).

When Johnson went to Berkeley Heights this time last year they faced a Governor Livingston baseball team that was 15-0, ranked No. 1 in the state for the first time and averaging nine runs.

Johnson’s resume at the time read 7-7. The Crusaders rebounded from a 1-6 start to earn the Union County Tournament’s ninth seed.

Defending champion GL, which captured the event for the first time in 2016, was the top seed and sought to repeat.

The winning team scored nine runs all right, but that squad was Johnson, not GL.

The Crusaders turned back the Highlanders 9-5 to hand GL its first loss and prevent it from winning back-to-back crowns.

Johnson lost to eventual champion Westfield in the semifinals and concluded its 2017 season at 11-14.

GL rebounded to win the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division title outright for the first time at 8-2 and then captured the Central Jersey, Group 2 state championship for the fourth time. The Highlanders fell two runs short of another trip to Toms River after falling to Manasquan 2-1 in the Group 2 semifinals.

GL finished one of its most successful seasons at 26-4, even if it didn’t include a second straight county championship.

As the month of May commences, GL is 12-2-1 and on a roll again, winners of nine straight and 10-0-1 in its last 11.

Johnson is 7-6 and has lost two of its last three after fashioning a four-game winning streak and winning six of seven following a 0-3 start.

Once again it will be Johnson at GL in the UCT quarterfinals. The third-seeded Highlanders will host the sixth-seeded Crusaders Saturday at 2 p.m.

For Johnson, the Crusaders were able to get seeded above two Watchung Division schools this time, with Elizabeth and Cranford getting seeds No. 7 and No. 8.

The top eight seeds all made it to the quarterfinals. However, that doesn’t mean that the top four – Saturday’s four home teams – will all win and advance to the semifinals.

That’s because in baseball, one never knows.

“Johnson is a good, quality baseball team that can swing the bat and is well-coached,” GL head coach Chris Roof said.

While the Highlanders went on to win 11 more games and capture two titles (division and state section) after their loss to Johnson last year – GL even beat Johnson 10-0 at home in a UCC-crossover game last May 16 – the sting of that defeat might still linger a bit.

“Any loss is a tough loss – nobody wants to lose,” Roof said. “To lose in the county, yeah it sucked, but good teams bounce back.

“We focused on two things in hand, winning the conference and the state tournament (section) and we won both.

“This is not a 3-game, or 5-game or 7-game series. Playing one game, anything can happen. Our focus is on ourselves, to approach it one pitch at a time and show mental toughness.”

GL has been sparked on the mound by senior left hander DJ Gonnelli (3-0), who last year only pitched five innings. GL’s returning first baseman when he doesn’t pitch, Gonnelli will continue playing in college at Montclair State.

“It all starts with pitching and we’ve been competing,” Roof said. “The weather is changing and our bats are starting to warm up.

“Gonnelli is a veteran, a leader and he gets it. He understands what it’s like to be a GL baseball player.

“We knew coming into this year that we needed to find innings. They were up for grabs. He has solidified himself as our No. 1 pitcher.”

Gonnelli beat Union for the second time Monday. His first win was at Delbarton, which was ranked No. 2 in the state at the time.

Offensively, Roof pencils in senior Danny Serretti as his leadoff batter, with juniors Drew Compton and Stephen Reid following second and third.

Going into Monday’s Watchung Division game at Union, Serretti had five home runs and Compton and Reid six each.

“That’s 17 home runs from just our first three batters, which is not too bad,” Roof said.

Saturday’s other three quarterfinal matchups include eighth-seeded Cranford at top-seeded Westfield – a rematch of last year’s final – fifth-seeded New Providence at fourth-seeded Union and seventh-seeded Elizabeth at second-seeded Scotch Plains.

In Watchung Division play, Cranford and Westfield split one-run games, with Cranford winning 1-0 in 11 innings at home back on April 5 and then Westfield coming out on top 8-7 at home last Thursday.

Westfield last failed to reach the semifinals in 2015 when the Blue Devils lost at Cranford 4-3 in the 6-at-3 quarterfinal.

Cranford was last defeated before the semifinals in 2012 when the top-seeded Cougars lost at eighth-seeded Union and senior left hander Devin Zimmerman 3-1 in the quarterfinals. The game was played at Union because Cranford’s field was too wet.

One of those teams will not advance to the semifinals this year.

Union defeated New Providence 4-2 at home on April 17.

Scotch Plains, which is sparked by junior left hander Danny Wilkinson, won at Elizabeth 7-3 in Watchung Division play back on April 10. The teams are scheduled to play their division game at Scotch Plains next Tuesday, May 8.

 

65TH ANNUAL BASEBALL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

 

SEEDS: 1-Westfield. 2-Scotch Plains. 3-Gov. Livingston. 4-Union.

5-New Providence. 6-Johnson. 7-Elizabeth. 8-Cranford.

9-Summit. 10-Union Catholic. 11-Roselle Park. 12-Oratory Prep.

13-Rahway. 14-Linden. 15-Plainfield. 16-Dayton.

17-Roselle Catholic.

 

PRELIMINARY ROUND:

Saturday, April 28

Dayton 13, Roselle Catholic 3 – at Dayton

 

FIRST ROUND:

Saturday, April 28

Cranford 8, Summit 7 – at Cranford

Union 8, Rahway 1 – at Union

Scotch Plains 11, Plainfield 6 – at Scotch Plains

Elizabeth 6, Union Catholic 1 – at Elizabeth

Gov. Livingston 15, Linden 1 – at GL

Johnson 11, Roselle Park 1 – at Johnson

Monday, April 30

Westfield 10, Dayton 0 – at Westfield

New Providence 2, Oratory Prep 0 – at New Providence

 

QUARTERFINALS:

Saturday, May 5

TOP SIDE OF THE BRACKET:

8-Cranford at 1-Westfield, 2 p.m.

5-New Providence at 4-Union, TBD

BOTTOM SIDE OF THE BRACKET:

7-Elizabeth at 2-Scotch Plains. 11 a.m.

6-Johnson at 3-Gov. Livingston, 2 p.m.

 

SEMIFINALS:

Saturday, May 12

At Kean University.

 

FINAL:

Sunday, May 13

At Kean University.

 

 

UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

CHAMPIONS:

2017: Westfield 6, Cranford 3

WP: Connor Scanlon. LP: Gordon Graceffo.

2016: Governor Livingston 3, Scotch Pains 2

WP: Vin Doren. LP: Marc Occhipinti.

2015: Cranford 3, Gov. Livingston 1

WP: Pat Knight. LP: Ethan Frohman.

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 0

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. LP: 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.

 

UCT CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Westfield (15)

Cranford (9)

Union (8)

Elizabeth-Jefferson (6)

Rahway (4)

Scotch Plains (4)

Summit (4)

Linden (3)

New Providence (2)

Roselle Catholic (2)

Governor Livingston (1)

Brearley (1)

Dayton (Springfield) (1)

Johnson Regional (1)

St. Mary’s, Elizabeth (1)

St. Patrick (1)

Union Catholic (1)

 

 

GREATER NEWARK TOURNAMENT

CHAMPIONS:

2017: Seton Hall Prep 4, Millburn 2

2016: Seton Hall Prep 11, Nutley 1

2015: Seton Hall Prep 12, Millburn 6

2014: Seton Hall Prep 7, Cedar Grove 6

2013: Seton Hall Prep 4, Montclair 2

2012: Montclair 2, Nutley 1

2011: Seton Hall Prep 8, Millburn 2

2010: West Essex 5, Columbia 4

2009: Livingston 5, Nutley 4

2008: Seton Hall Prep 8, Millburn 7 (8 inn.)

2007: Seton Hall Prep 5, Newark East Side 1

2006: West Essex 5, Seton Hall Prep 2

2005: Seton Hall Prep 11, Nutley 0

2004: Nutley 3, Seton Hall Prep 2

2003: Seton Hall Prep 3, Nutley 0

2002: Nutley 6, Seton Hall Prep 2

2001: Nutley 5, Seton Hall Prep 3

2000: Seton Hall Prep 3, Livingston 1

1999: Seton Hall Prep 4, Columbia 3

1998: Seton Hall Prep 6, Essex Catholic 4

1997: Seton Hall Prep 5, Bloomfield 2

1996: Bloomfield 3, Livingston 0

1995: Columbia 1, Belleville 0

1994: East Side 4, Glen Ridge 3

1993: Nutley 10, West Essex 3

1992: East Side 5, Seton Hall Prep 2

1991: Livingston 7, Cedar Grove 6

1990: Seton Hall Prep 13, Columbia 0

1989: Glen Ridge 7, Livingston 0

1988: Cedar Grove 5, Livingston 3

1987: Glen Ridge 3, Irvington 0

1986: Columbia 9, Belleville 8 (8 inn.)

1985: Cedar Grove 2, Caldwell 1 (8 inn.)

1984: Millburn 4, Nutley 3

1983: Seton Hall Prep 3, Glen Ridge 1

1982: Caldwell 4, Glen Ridge 1

1981: Belleville 10, Glen Ridge 4

1980: Livingston 8, Belleville 6

1979: Columbia 5, Livingston 4

1978: Columbia 3, Our Lady of the Valley 2

1977: Livingston 9, Seton Hall Prep 1

1976: Livingston 6, Essex Catholic 4

1975: Essex Catholic 5, Irvington 1

1974: Livingston 5, Verona 1

1973: Our Lady of the Valley 3, Bloomfield 1

GNT has been Essex County teams only since 1973.

 

GNT also included teams from

outside Essex County from 1933-1972.

1972: Ewing 7, Bloomfield 3

1971: Seton Hall Prep 7, Haddonfield 2

1970: Union 5, Ewing 1

1969: Morristown 12, Montclair 3

1968: Morristown 2, Piscataway 1

1967: Morristown 5, Roselle Catholic 4

1966: Union 2, Parsippany 1

1965: Parsippany 5, Westfield 3

1964: St. Benedict’s Prep 6, Montclair 5

1963: Montclair 6, St. Benedict’s 3

1962: Garfield 6, Nutley 0

1961: South River 5, Linden 3

1960: New Brunswick 3, East Side 0

1959: Bayonne 14, Verona 8

1958: St. Peter’s Prep 3, Hanover Park 1

1957: Rahway 3, Irvington 2

1956: New Brunswick 11, Barringer 0

1955: Jefferson 7, Montclair 6

1954: Montclair 8, Englewood 0

1953: Englewood 9, Irvington 4

1952: Bloomfield 3, Nutley 0

1951: Linden 8, Jefferson 3

1950: Rahway 9, East Side 7

1949: Bayonne 3, Montclair 2

1948: Montclair 1, Irvington 0

1947: Irvington 6, Columbia 0

1946: East Side 4, Roselle Park 2

1945: Bloomfield 5, Columbia 0

1944: Caldwell 9, Bloomfield 0

1943: Kearny 6, Hillside 3

1942: Montclair 3, Irvington 2

1941: Hillside 9, Kearny 5

1940: Irvington 2, Trenton 0

1939: Irvington 4, Woodbridge 3

1938: Irvington 6, South River 1

1937: Hillside 8, Bloomfield 4

1936: Hillside 11, Nutley 2

1935: Bloomfield 4, Hillside 3

1934: Hillside 5, Barringer 1

1933: Irvington 1, Kearny 0

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