CENTRAL JERSEY GROUP II CHAMPIONS!
Spotswood 7, Gov. Livingston 5 (High school Baseball scores and results)
By Chris Orlando
Cody Pace of Spotswood has come through when his team has needed him the most this season time after time.
Yesterday was no exception.
Pace, a senior right-hander, delivered a gutsy effort on the mound and hit a big two-run home run in the sixth inning to lift Spotswood to a 7-5 victory over Gov. Livingston in the championship game of the NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Central Jersey, Group 2 tournament yesterday at Gov. Livingston in Berkeley Heights.
Spotswood (14-12), which last won a sectional title in 2007, will meet Audubon in a Group 2 semifinal on Tuesday at Rutgers at 4 p.m. Gov. Livingston (23-9) was also seeking its first sectional title since 2007.
Spotswood, which struck for five runs in the top of the first, held a 5-4 edge before Pace hit a two-run home run to left-center with two out in the top of the sixth to push the lead to 7-4.
Gov. Livingston’s Mike Rielly led off the seventh with a single but was erased from the base paths on a 1-6-3 double play. Pace then issued a walk to Billy Worswick and Joey DiSarno reached on an error before Jake Skinner lined an RBI single to right to cut the Union County school’s deficit to 7-5.
Pace, headed to Montclair State in the fall, then got the final out on a groundout to second.
“I wasn’t really nervous because we had a couple of runs to work with, but I was going on pure adrenaline,” said Pace, who totaled 126 pitches. “This is an awesome feeling. We were the 11th seed coming in and definitely not the favorite.”
Pace, now 5-2, had the game-winning hit as well as the victory in relief as Spotswood defeated Manasquan, 9-8, on Tuesday in the sectional semifinal round.
“This team has had a lot of challenges this year but never lost faith,” said Spotswood coach Glenn Fredricks. “And Cody gave a great effort again. Both pitchers really pitched well after the first inning.”
Spotswood, on the strength of a three-run home run by Mike Liming and a two-run blast by Anthony Pietanza, took a 5-0 lead in the first against Gov. Livingston starter Mike Cranston.
Gov. Livingston responded with three runs right back in the frst. DiSarno singled and eventually scored on an error, John Jennings brought in another run with a long fly out and Skinner added an RBI single.
Billy Worswick led off the second with a deep home run to left to bring Gov. Livingston to 5-4.
Cranston, who entered the game with an 8-2 mark and a 2.87 ERA, settled down after the initial fame and only allowed one hit before Pietanza led off the sixth with an infield hit. He finished with 128 pitches.
“That first inning punched us in the gut, but we chipped away and fought back,” said Gov. Livingston coach Chris Roof, who has guided his team to the sectional final round in three of the last five seasons.
Gov. Livingston defeat Spotswood, 6-1, for the sectional crown in 2006 but fell to its Middlesex foe, 12-2, in five innings in the sectional quarters the following year.
One of the highlights yesterday was the great diving catch made by Skinner, who, with a runner on second, came running in from left field and robbed Pace of a sure extra-base hit and RBI. That kept the game a one-run affair.
“Mike did a great job of shutting them down, but for three innings we didn’t do anything with it,” said Skinner, who will attend Wesleyan College. “It’s a tough game to lose but it’s been great to play here. We’ve accomplished a lot.”
Errors - Spotswood 2, Gov. Livingston 0.
2B - Gov. Livingston: Keith Skinner.
HR - Spotswood: Cody Pace , Mike Liming , Anthony Pietanza. Gov. Livingston: Billy Worswick.
IP H R ER BB SO
Cody Pace W, 5-2 7 9 5 4 3 3
Gov. Livingston Pitching
IP H R ER BB SO
Mike Cranston L, 8-3 7 7 7 7 4 9