UNION – When does a first-year varsity pitcher start to be considered an ace?
When he starts to display a blend of consistency and dominance on the mound and believes in his pitches.
Cole Schneider is becoming such a hurler for Governor Livingston.
The junior right hander tossed a seven-hit shutout Monday in stopping host Union 3-0 in Union County Conference-Watchung Division play.
Schneider was, perhaps, at his best when it counted the most as he got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh by striking out Union’s leadoff batter and then getting the next to ground out to short.
“I had good command of my fastball and I had a good curve,” said Schneider, who improved to 2-0 on the season, including a 3-2 home win against Cranford. “I started out slow my first few games, but started to turn it around against Cranford and Union today.”
“Cole has been pitching with a lot of confidence,” GL head coach Chris Roof said. “He’s gaining experience now and has definitely built from his very first start, which was against Union in our opener.”
Schneider’s performance Monday, which included eight strikeouts and three walks, helped GL improve to 8-2 immediately after the Highlanders scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to top the Farmers 8-3 in Monday’s resumed game from April 1.
GL’s sweep of Union Monday was a big reason why the Highlanders were seeded third for this year’s 63rd annual Union County Tournament, which commences later this week with two preliminary round games.
Still seeking their first UCT title, the Highlanders are 0-5 in the championship game, including getting there the last two years.
Scotch Plains, which began the season 4-0 and is presently 6-2, was selected as the top seed. The Raiders last won the crown in 2009.
Since then, Westfield and Cranford have combined to win the last six titles, Cranford four and Westfield two.
Westfield (6-3), winners of six straight following an 0-3 start, is the second seed and defending champion Cranford (5-3) the fourth. The next four seeds went Union (5-4) five, Elizabeth (2-5) six, Johnson (4-3) seven and New Providence (3-4) eight.
Union defeated Elizabeth and Johnson leads the UCC’s Mountain Division at 4-0 and improved to 4-3 overall Monday after winning at Linden 10-9.
With GL’s two wins over Union Monday, the Highlanders moved into first place in the Watchung Division at 5-2.
With 18 teams seeded there will be two preliminary round games that must be played by Thursday. They include 18th-seeded Linden at 15th-seeded Roselle Park and 17th-seeded Rahway at 16th-seeded Brearley.
The eight first round games are scheduled to be played this Saturday, April 23, with four quarterfinal contests to follow next Wednesday, April 27.
The semifinals are scheduled to be played Sunday, May 1 at Kean, a departure from them usually being played the Saturday after the quarterfinals. Kean was available Sunday, May 1, not Saturday, April 30.
Another twist is that a week will be taken off before the championship game is scheduled to be played. The final is set for Saturday, May 14 at Kean.
Times for the semifinals and final will be determined at a later date. Times for the quarterfinals at the higher seeds on April 27 should all be 4 p.m.
Times for this Saturday’s eight first round games will be determined by the higher seeded teams hosting them.
NOTES: Producing GL’s five runs in the bottom of the sixth in the 8-3 victory over Union were Brian Cranston with an RBI-single up the middle with the bases loaded and one out for a 4-3 lead and later Josh Katz connected on an RBI-single to left to make it 8-3.
In between, a Union error accounted for runs five, six and seven to score on the same at-bat.
Union senior lefty Matt Meola, who belted a double in the bottom of the seventh, took the mound loss. He then started the second game, pitched two and two-thirds, and took the loss in that one as well.
GL scored the game’s only runs in the top of the third off Meola, with lefty-batting Nicky Cocchia connecting on a two-run single to right to make it 3-0, moments after the first Highlander run came across home plate on a 6-4 fielder’s choice.
63rd ANNUAL UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
SEEDS: 1-Scotch Plains. 2-Westfeld. 3-Gov. Livingston. 4-Cranford.
5-Union. 6-Elizabeth. 7-Johnson. 8-New Providence. 9-Union Catholic.
10-Summit. 11-Plainfield. 12-Dayton. 13-Oratory Prep. 14-Roselle Catholic.
15-Roselle Park. 16-Brearley. 17-Rahway. 18-Linden.
Thursday, April 21
18-Linden at 15-Roselle Park
17-Rahway at 16-Brearley
Saturday, April 23
TOP SIDE OF THE BRACKET:
Rahway/Brearley at 1-Scotch Plains
9-Union Catholic at 8-New Providence
13-Oratory Prep at 4-Cranford
12-Dayton at 5-Union
BOTTOM SIDE OF THE BRACKET:
Linden/Roselle Park at 2-Westfield
10-Summit at 7-Johnson
11-Plainfield at 6-Elizabeth
14-Roselle Catholic at 3-Gov. Livingston
Wednesday, April 27
At the higher seeds, 4 p.m.
Sunday, May 1
At Kean University
Saturday, May 14
At Kean University