Union County baseball has its opening day of the season

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UNION COUNTY, NJ — In a rematch of last year’s Union County Tournament championship game at Kean University, Cranford High School hosted Jonathan Dayton High School in one of the 10 Union County baseball opening day clashes on Monday, April 3.

All 19 Union County Conference schools opened on Monday, April 3, with defending UCT champion Cranford once again coming out on top against Jonathan Dayton, this time at its Memorial Field by the score of 7-5.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Elizabeth High School out-slugging Governor Livingston High School 13-8 at home. Governor Livingston jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three runs in the top of the first, but Elizabeth answered with three of its own in the bottom of the first to quickly tie the game at 3-3.

The Minutemen then scored five runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead for good at 8-3. Governor Livingston scored its final four runs in the top of the fifth to pull to within 10-8 before Elizabeth produced three more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth for what turned out to be the final score of 13-8.

Governor Livingston was 7-0 last year before it lost and opened with an 8-2 win at home against Elizabeth.

This was the first time Elizabeth defeated Governor Livingston since the Minutemen topped the Highlanders 5-4 on May 4, 2017, at Elizabeth’s Williams Field. Governor Livingston had won nine in a row against Elizabeth, including three times each in 2018 and 2019. In addition to regular season wins in 2019 and 2018, Governor Livingston also defeated Elizabeth those years in UCT action.

Coming through with big games for Elizabeth were Anthony Davis with three RBIs, Angel Deaza with two hits and Devin Rojas with two runs. George Provel had two runs and two RBIs for Governor Livingston, while Zach Geertsma banged out two hits.

Governor Livingston lost its season-opener for the first time in more than 10 years.

Cranford, which won the UCT last year for the first time since 2015 and then went on to capture the North 2, Group 3 sectional state championship, received offense from many in its home win against Jonathan Dayton.

Dennis McCaffery was 2-for-4, with one run and three RBIs. Sean Riley was 2-for-3 and all-state senior third baseman Ryan Jaros, who will continue playing in college at Georgia Tech, was 1-for-1, with two runs and one RBI.

Winning pitcher Matt Chapman, a senior right-hander who will play in college at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., struck out nine and walked one in a six-inning stint that saw him allow only three runs on five hits.

For Jonathan Dayton, Michael Ramirez slugged the game’s only home run and went 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs. After trailing 7-2, Jonathan Dayton scored one run in the sixth and two more in the seventh for the final 7-5 score.

Cranford won the UCC’s Watchung Division title last year, while Jonathan Dayton captured the Mountain Division crown. Jonathan Dayton reached the UCT final last year for the first time since 2006.

At Conant Park in Hillside, it was sophomore Santiago Alvarez tossing a one-hitter to lead the Roselle Catholic High School Lions past host Hillside High School 25-1. In five innings, Alvarez struck out 10, walked two and did not allow an earned run.

At the plate, sophomore Derek Escobar and junior Aidan Bell put together solid performances for Roselle Catholic. Escobar was 5-for-6 with four runs and seven RBIs. Bell was 4-for-5 with five runs and five RBIs.

New Providence and David Brearley high schools, who played each other in last year’s North 2, Group 1 final with New Providence coming out on top at home 8-3, both won on Monday, April 3, against schools from Scotch Plains. New Providence blanked host Union Catholic High School 8-0, while David Brearley beat visiting Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School 5-2.

Ryan Grill, the winning pitcher, and Ethan Cifarelli combined on a four-hit shutout for New Providence. Grill allowed four hits, striking out two and walking none in five and one-third innings. Cifarelli also did not walk a batter and struck out one in one and two-thirds hitless innings.

Standout senior Matt Sims slugged a home run among his three hits and scored two runs for David Brearley. Sims also helped lead David Brearley’s football team this past fall to the North 1, Group 1 final.

Rahway High School scored 15 runs on 15 hits and took advantage of 10 Plainfield errors in the 15-5 triumph at Plainfield on Monday, April 3. Six players banged out two hits for the Indians, who took the lead for good in the second inning at 6-4, including Walny Arache, Charles McCann, Austin Tilton, Humberto Capeles, Lucas Sehr and Joshua Tilton. Sehr was the winning pitcher, striking out seven in five innings.

Roselle Park was the only Union County school that did not face another Union County squad. The Panthers played St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Edison, formerly known as Bishop George Ahr High School, and fell by the score of 17-7.

Union county baseball opening day scoreboard

Monday, April 3

• Union High School 8, Linden High School 0 – at Linden
• Elizabeth High School 13, Governor Livingston High School 8 – at Elizabeth
• Roselle Catholic High School 25, Hillside High School 1 – at Hillside
• New Providence High School 8, Union Catholic High School 0 – at Union Catholic
• Arthur L. Johnson High School 8, Oratory Preparatory School 5 – at Arthur L. Johnson
• Rahway High School 15, Plainfield High School 5 – at Plainfield
• St. Thomas Aquinas High School 17, Roselle Park High School 7 – at St. Thomas Aquinas
• David Brearley High School 5, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School 2 – at David Brearley
• Summit High School 8, Westfield High School 3 – at Summit
• Cranford High School 7, Jonathan Dayton High School 5 – at Cranford

Photos Courtesy of Gene Nann