GL baseball, behind superb pitching from senior left hander DJ Gonnelli, beats top-seeded and defending champion Westfield 6-2 in May 14 UCT championship game at Kean

PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOHN HADDAD – GL senior left hander DJ Gonnelli tossed a five-hitter in beating top-seeded and defending champion Westfield 6-2 in the May 14 UCT baseball championship game at Kean University.
DJ Gonnelli is now 5-0 this year after pitching only five innings total last year.

UNION – This was DJ’s night.

Governor Livingston senior left hander DJ Gonnelli continued his outstanding pitching, this time with a trophy on the line.

After throwing only five innings as a junior last year, Gonnelli improved to 5-0 after halting top-seeded and defending champion Westfield 6-2 in Monday night’s 65th annual baseball Union County Tournament championship game at Kean University.

Gonnelli surrendered two runs on three hits in the first – one of the runs unearned – and then settled in, allowing only two hits the rest of the way. His pitch total was a highly-economical 72.

“I’m just on cloud nine right now,” said Gonnelli, who will continue playing in college at Montclair State.

GL won for the 17th time in a row to improve to 20-2-1. The Highlanders are 18-0-1 in their last 19 games after a 2-2 start concluded with an 8-7 Union County Conference-Watchung Division loss at Westfield back on April 10.

GL’s two losses were by one run on the road to teams – Scotch Plains and Westfield – that they beat the second time around in Watchung Division play, both by 10 runs.

Westfield lost for the third time in four games to slip to 14-9.

GL took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first against Westfield starter, junior right hander Michael Carlone. The first run scored on a wild pitch and the second on an opposite field RBI-single to right by Tyler McCulloch.

Westfield tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the first when lefty-swinging cleanup batter Chris Wagner singled to right for his team’s first run. Jake Vall-Llobera, also a lefty bat, followed with a sacrifice fly RBI to right.

“I hung a couple of curves and had some fastballs leak out over the plate,” Gonnelli said.

Gonnelli tossed perfect innings in the second and third and retired nine in a row until Vall-Llobera hit an opposite field single to left in the fourth. Westfield’s final hit was another single to right by Wagner with two outs and nobody on in the sixth. Gonnelli then got Vall-Llobera to pop up to short.

“I just had to stay grounded and work my spots,” Gonnelli said. “We had to try to throw low and away to Wagner because he is a good curveball hitter and try to pound inside and keep Vall-Llobera off balance.”

GL took its second lead and the advantage for good in the top of the sixth when Jack Pedini produced an RBI-single to left with two outs. Scoring on the wide throw home was Ryan Davey, who reached on an infield throwing error with one out.

With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the seventh, McCulloch drove in GL’s fourth run with an RBI-infield single to the left side of short. Will Jennings followed with an opposite field two-run double to left for the game’s final run production.

“That just shows what kind of team we had, the production we can get from anyone,” Gonnelli said.

With a runner on first and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Gonnelli got Westfield pinch hitter John DeDomenico – on a seven-pitch at-bat – to ground out to Drew Compton at third for the game’s final out.

“DJ was great,” GL head coach Chris Roof said. “He only threw 72 pitches.

“Our strategy was just to try to keep Westfield off balance. He got hit by a pitch in the first and I think that affected him a bit. He came back and really threw a nice game. I am so proud of him.”

GL won the UCT crown for the second time and the second time now in three years. They denied Westfield from winning a record 16th title.

This time instead of Danny Serretti, Drew Compton and Stephen Reid – GL’s lethal top 3 batters in the order – doing most of the offensive damage, it was the likes of McCulloch, Pedini and Jennings getting the job done.

“The big game doesn’t affect our players, they have been through it before,” Roof said. “They are calm under pressure.

“That’s the name of the game in baseball, if you can succeed under pressure and our guys did.”

 

65TH ANNUAL BASEBALL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT KEAN UNIVERSITY

3-Gov. Livingston (20-2-1)     2     0     0       0     0     1       3 – 6   8   3

1-Westfield (14-9)                     2     0     0       0      0     0      0 – 2   5   1

 

GL TOP OF THE FIRST:

13-Danny Serretti: single to right 1-1 (3 pitches)

30-Drew Compton: fly out to center (1)

Stolen base – Serretti.

Wild pitch – Serretti to 3B

11-BB1 3-0 (4)

First and third and one out.

Wild pitch – Serretti scores Reid to 2B (1-0 GL)

32-HBP 1 2-2 (5)

First and second and one out.

10-Opposite field RBI-single to RF (1) and out at the plate 9-2-1-2 (2-0 GL)

Reid scores, courtesy runner Dylan Verschleiser out at the plate.

Second and two outs.

26-K1 swing 0-2 (3)

2 runs, 2 hits, 0 E, 1 LOB / 1K, 1BB, 1 HBP / 17 pitches

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF FIRST:

6-Single to right 0-1 (2 pitches)

First and no outs.

Pick off 1-3-6-3-1-4

5-Opposite field single to right 2-2 (5)

9-(E-6) – Serretti drops grounder (1) (possible double play ball)

First and second and one out.

23-RBI-single to right (1) (GL 2-1)

First and third and one out.

21-Sacrifice fly RBI to right (1) (2-2 tie)

First and two outs.

2-K1 look (2-2 and foul) (6)

2 runs (1 unearned), 3 hits, 1 E, 1 LOB / 1K, 0BB / 16 pitches

 

GL TOP OF THE SECOND (2-2):

12-BB2 3-2 (6)

First and no outs.

23-Go 4-3 0-2 (3)

Second and one out.

20-Go 6-3 3-2 (6)

Third and two outs.

13-Fly out to center (1)

0 runs, 0 hits, 0 E, 0 LOB / 0K, 1BB / 16 pitches (33)

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF SECOND (2-2):

3-K2 swing 0-2 (3)

4-Fly out to center 1-0 (2)

1-K3 swing 1-2 (4)

First 1-2-3.

0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB / 2K, 0BB / 9 pitches (25)

 

GL TOP OF THE THIRD (2-2):

30-Single to right 0-1 (2) – Compton 100th hit

11-Fly out to right 0-1 (2)

Wild pitch – Compton to second base.

32-Go 6-3 1-1 (3)

Third and two outs.

10-Go 6-3 (1)

0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB / 0K, 0BB / 8 pitches (41)

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF THE THIRD (2-2):

6-Fly out to right (1)

5-G0 5-3 1-1 (3) – nice dive to his left

9-G0 4-3 (1)

Second straight 1-2-3, retired 8 in a row.

0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB / 0 K, 0 BB / 5 pitches (30)

 

GL TOP OF THE FOURTH (2-2):

26-Go 5-3 0-2 (3)

12-K2 swing 0-2 (3)

23-K3 look 0-2 and foul (4)

Carlone first 1-2-3, 6 in a row.

0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB / 2 K, 0BB / 10 pitches (51)

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH (2-2):

23-Fly out right – Jennings nice catch running to his right 1-0 (2)

9 in a row

21-Opposite field single to left (1)

First and one out.

2-Line drive double play 1-3, 0-2 (3)

0 R, 1 H,0 E, 0 LOB / 0K, 0BB / 6 pitches (36)

 

GL TOP OF THE FIFTH (2-2):

20-Bunt single to 3B, beats 1-3 throw (1)

First and no outs.

13-K4 swing 1-2 (4) and Davey stolen base.

Second and one out.

30-Foul out 5 1-0 (2)

Second and two outs.

11-Line out to center 1-1 (3) – Barden nice catch running in.

0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB / 1K, 0BB / 10 pitches (61)

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH (2-2):

3-Line out to short (1)

4-(E-6) Serretti boots grounder 1-0 (1)

First and one out.

1-K4 look 0-2 (3)

6-Pop up to short 1-1 (3)

0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB / 1K, 0BB / 8 pitches (44)

 

GL TOP OF THE SIXTH (2-2):

32-Go 4-3, 2-1 (4)

10-(E-5) – (1) Manning high throw past first base.

Second and one out.

26-Fly out to left 1-2 (4)

Second and two outs.

12-RBI-single to left 1-2 and foul (5) (3-2 GL)

Safe at home and Pedini to second base.

Second and two outs.

23-Foul out to third 3-2 and foul (7)

1 run (unearned), 1 hit, 1 E, 1 LOB / 0K, 0BB / 21 pitches (82)

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH (3-2 GL):

5-Go 5-3, 1-1 (3)

9-Line out to center (1) – HUGE OUT

23-Single to right 0-2 (3) – off speed

21-Pop up to short 0-1 (2)

0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB / 0K, 0BB / 9 pitches (53)

 

GL TOP OF THE SEVENTH (3-2 GL):

20-Opposite field bloop single to right (1) – No. 4 in to run

13-Fly out to center (1)

Wild pitch, his 4th – No. 4 to second.

Second and one out

30-BB3 3-0 (4)

First and second and one out.

Wild pitch, his fifth

11-Intentional walk-4th walk

Bases loaded and one out.

32-Line out 4, 1-0 (2)

Bases loaded and two outs.

10-RBI-infield single to short 1-1 (3) (GL 4-2)

Ryan Davey scores.

Bases still loaded and two outs.

26-Opposite field 2-run double to left 1-1 (3) (GL 6-2)

Second and third and two outs.

Carlone is done – 6 and 1/3

Dan Russo (No. 8) senior RH now pitching for Westfield.

Second and third and two outs.

12-Fly out to center (1)

3 runs, 3 hits, 0 E, 2 LOB

 

WESTFIELD BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH (6-2 GL):

2-Fly out to right 1-1 (3)

3-(E-6) – Serretti high throw past first base. 1-0 (2)

First and one out.

4-K5 look 0-2 (3)

7-John DeDomenico, senior, pinch hitting

Go 5-3, 2-2 and 2 fouls (7)

GL WINS 6-2!

0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 1 LOB / 1K, 0BB / 15 pitches (68)

 

7:10 p.m. start.

8:55 p.m. finish.

 

DJ Gonnelli (5-0)

7 innings complete, 72 pitches (team reported):

2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits

5 strikeouts, 0 walks.

 

3-GOV. LIVINGSTON HIGHLANDERS (19-2-1):

13-Danny Serretti, senior shortstop – bats lefty

30-Drew Compton, junior third baseman – lefty

11-Stephen Reid, junior designated hitter

9-Sam Pile, senior catcher (did not bat)

32-DJ Gonnelli, senior LH pitcher (4-0, 1.41)

10-Tyler McCulloch, senior left fielder

26-Will Jennings, senior right fielder – lefty

12-Jack Pedini, senior center fielder

23-Andy Serretti, junior second baseman – lefty

20-Ryan Davey, junior first baseman

 

1-WESTFIELD BLUE DEVILS (14-8):

6-Matt McIntyre, junior left fielder – lbats efty

5-Andrew Caminiti, junior shortstop

9-Jake Lerie, senior right fielder

23-Chris Wagner, senior first baseman – lefty

21-Jake Vall-Llobera, senior catcher – lefty

2-Matt Manning, senior third baseman

3-Mike Knapp, senior second baseman

4-Ben Cappiello, senior designated hitter

18-Michael Carlone, junior pitcher (did not bat) (5-1, 2.92)

1-Steve Barden, senior center fielder

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