Baseball seeds begin to take shape in Union County

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The two teams in the lead for the top seed in this month’s 68th annual baseball Union County Tournament, Cranford and Governor Livingston high schools, are both scheduled to play a team they lost to the first time around.

Cranford is scheduled to host New Providence High School on Thursday, May 5, while Governor Livingston is to host New Providence on Monday, May 9.

The UCT is to be seeded on Monday, May 9, with preliminary-round games scheduled for Wednesday, May 11. The UCT will continue on Saturday, May 14, with first-round games. The quarterfinals are set to take place on Wednesday, May 18, at the fields of the higher-seeded teams.

The semifinals are scheduled to be played on Saturday, May 21, at a site still to be determined, while the championship game is on for Monday, May 23, at Kean University’s field in Union.

68th annual UCT baseball schedule:
• Monday, May 9: seeding meeting.
• Wednesday, May 11: preliminary round.
• Saturday, May 14: first round.
• Wednesday, May 18: quarterfinals.
• Saturday, May 21: semifinals.
• Monday, May 23: final at Kean University.

It took two days at Elizabeth High School’s Williams Field last year, because of inclement weather, for Governor Livingston to down Westfield High School, 16-6, in the 2021 final. It was the third UCT crown Governor Livingston won, with the others coming in 2016 and 2018.

Cranford began this week with an 11-3 record and, as the defending champion of the UCC’s Watchung Division, was in first place once again with a record of 7-1. Cranford’s only loss to a Union County opponent was its 9-3 loss at New Providence after a 5-0 start on Tuesday, April 12. Its other losses were to Middletown South High School and James J. Ferris High School of Jersey City.

Governor Livingston began the week at 13-2, with its only losses being to Cranford and New Providence. The Highlanders began the week in third place in the Watchung Division at 5-2.

New Providence was 8-5 overall as of Monday, May 2, and in second place in the Watchung Division at 6-2. The Pioneers, new to the Watchung Division this year, after winning several division games, just lost their first two, falling at Westfield, 4-3, on Thursday, April 28, and at home to Arthur L. Johnson High School, 6-3, on Friday, April 29.

Westfield went 5-0-1 in a six-game stretch following its 2-4 start. The tie, 6-6, was at home with archrival Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School on Thursday, April 14.

The Blue Devils saw their unbeaten streak end on Saturday, April 30, when they were defeated at Cranford, 17-5.

Cranford hit the ball well in that triumph, banging out 16 hits. After Westfield scored all five of its runs in the top of the first, Cranford immediately came back with three in the bottom of the first, one more in the second and seven in the third to take the lead for good.

Every player in the Cranford lineup had at least one hit, with Jake Carter, Shane VanDam and senior catcher Lucca Limeira producing two each.

Tony Silva had a triple and scored three runs. VanDam scored a game-high four runs.

The other two division leaders as of Monday were Union Catholic, 8-5 overall, in the Mountain at 5-1 and Roselle Catholic, 7-1 overall, in the Valley at 6-0.

A big Valley Division game rescheduled for Wednesday, May 4, after press time, was Roselle Catholic High School at Rahway High School. The Indians, as of Monday, May 2, were 7-2 overall and 4-2 and in second place in the Valley Division.

As of Monday, Roselle Catholic was the only team in the county that had not lost to a county opponent. Its only setback was at home to Glen Ridge High School, 14-4, on Thursday, April 21.

“We want to be a program of class and get Roselle Catholic back to being a baseball school again,” said first-year Roselle Catholic head coach Craig Goldberg.

Senior pitcher Danny Keane struck out 12 to earn the mound victory in last week’s 13-3 Valley Division triumph at Roselle Park High School. Keane was to be on the mound next when Roselle Catholic faced Rahway on Wednesday, May 4, after press time.

Rahway is led by head coach Brad Edwards, at the helm of the Indians since 2015. Edwards was a sophomore first baseman on Rahway’s 1990 UCT championship team, before graduating in 1992 and then playing at Davidson College.

Rahway split Valley Division games with Roselle Park and Plainfield High School.

In Rahway’s 7-6 win at home against William L. Dickinson High School of Jersey City on Saturday, April 30, Charles McCann turned out to be the hero for the Indians after Dickinson scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead.

McCann, a sophomore, was 0-for-3 before belting a two-run double that brought in Austin Tilton and starting pitcher Brenden Streeter to win the contest.

McCann was also the game’s winning pitcher, hurling the sixth and seventh innings. Streeter, who pitched the first five, struck out seven and walked three.

Humberto Capeles, a freshman, was 3-for-3, with three singles and one run scored. Tilton was 2-for-3, and junior Johnovan Rodriguez had two hits and scored two runs.