MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — Bolstered by a bevy of players who reside in Mountainside, this year’s Governor Livingston High School baseball team in Berkeley Heights is showing immediate signs of excelling on the mound and with its gloves.
Producing at the plate is currently a work in progress.
“I would definitely say that our pitching and defense are ahead of our hitting right now,” Governor Livingston head baseball coach Chris Roof said.
At the helm of the Highlanders since 2004, Roof guided Governor Livingston to its third Union County Tournament championship last year. The Highlanders finished 18-6 after reaching the Central Jersey, Group 2, semifinals.
The only returning everyday player is senior Michael Labisi, who will be one of the starting outfielders when he’s not pitching. Labisi is one of nine Mountainside residents on this year’s squad.
In addition to Labisi, Mountainside residents include seniors Roman Andre, Greg Patterson, Jimmy Ruban and Jackson Wenz; junior George Provel; sophomore Anthony Labisi; and freshmen Anthony DeNora and Matty Diskin.
“Michael is a good leader, a solid hitter and just a good, all-around player,” Roof said. “He can run and he can hit. He has a lot of very good attributes.”
Labisi, with Penn State Altoona in the mix as a destination for possibly playing beyond this year, is also one of nine seniors on the team.
Governor Livingston baseball has the following players by class.
Seniors: Roman Andre, pitcher/outfield; Dan Bass, RH pitcher; Thomas DiNunzio, outfield; Michael Labisi, RH pitcher; JP Murphy, outfield; Robert Murphy, shortstop; Greg Patterson, pitcher/infield; Jimmy Ruban, infield; Patrick Tullo, LH pitcher; Jackson Wenz, infield; and Andrew Wilson, outfield.
Juniors: Brian Kramer, pitcher/infield; George Provel, outfield; Johnny Schmidt, pitcher/first base/outfield; and Jonathan Schmidt, catcher.
Sophomores: Anthony Labisi, catcher, and Matthew Shaffer, infield.
Freshmen: Anthony DeNora, pitcher/outfield, and Matty Diskin, pitcher/first base.
“This is definitely a transition with a lot of new players,” said Roof, who last year reached and passed 400 career victories. “It will take some time.”
Bass and Johnny Schmidt are back on the mound for the Highlanders. They both pitched in last year’s 16-6 UCT championship game triumph against Westfield High School. Schmidt, who started the county final at Elizabeth High School, also plays first base and in the outfield.
Tullo will continue playing at the next level in Randolph at the County College of Morris. Schmidt lists Ursinus College as where he will play following his senior season next year.
New to the mound staff is Diskin, who stands 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 200 pounds. Roof said that he has been clocked in the mid- to upper 80s and has already received offers from Rutgers and Oklahoma State, with more to come.
“They’re a hard-working group of kids, which is all I can ask,” Roof said.
Notes: Governor Livingston finished third in the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division last year, with a record of 7-4. Cranford High School won the division outright at 11-1 and Union High School was second at 10-2.
For this year, Elizabeth dropped down to the UCC’s Mountain Division, and last year’s Mountain Division champion, New Providence High School, moved up to replace the Minutemen in the Watchung Division. The Pioneers won the Mountain Division championship outright last year at 10-2.
The seven high school teams in the Watchung Division this year are Cranford, Governor Livingston, Arthur L. Johnson, New Providence, Scotch Plains, Union and Westfield.
Governor Livingston is scheduled to open its 2022 season at home vs. Elizabeth on Friday, April 1, at 4 p.m.
Governor Livingston Highlanders Baseball 2022:
Friday, April 1, vs. Elizabeth, 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 2, at Morristown, 2 p.m.
Monday, April 4, at Union Catholic, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 5, at Union, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, April 6, vs. Roselle Catholic, 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 9, at Newton, noon
Monday, April 11, vs. Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12, at Westfield, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 14, at Arthur L. Johnson, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 19, at New Providence, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 21, vs. Summit, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 22, at Dayton, 4 p.m.
Sunday, April 24, vs. Gill St. Bernards, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 26, vs. Cranford, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, April 27, vs. Union, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 29, at Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 30, at Oratory Prep, 11 a.m.
Tuesday, May 3, at Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.
Thursday, May 5, vs. Westfield, 4 p.m.
Friday, May 6, vs. Arthur L. Johnson, 4 p.m.
Monday, May 9, vs. New Providence, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, May 10, vs. Lyndhurst, 4 p.m.
Friday, May 13, vs. Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.
Monday, May 16, at Cranford, 4 p.m.
Friday, May 20, at Plainfield, 4 p.m.
Photos by JR Parachini