We’re down to three Essex County schools still in the running for a state sectional title.
Livingston, the top-ranked team in the FMTC poll since the season’s inception, won its 18th straight game on May 29, defeating a tough Clifton team, 2-0, in the NJSIAA, North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 semifinal.
The defending champion and top-seeded Lancers (24-3) will seek a second straight sectional title on May 31 when it hosts second-seeded Morris Knolls at 4 p.m.
Senior pitcher Jess Peslak was outstanding, with 12 strikeouts while scattering four hits and walking one.
“Clifton had a very good team,” Peslak said. “They were aggressive and it was a hard-fought game. My teammates came through on offense when it was needed. It was warm today and I enjoy pitching in that kind of weather.”
‘Secretariat’s’ batterymate Marina Lombardi had two hits and drove in a run while ‘Seattle Slew’, Kylie McLaughlin, had a hit and drove in a run for the Lancers.
“We’re looking forward to playing a very good team in Morris Knolls on Friday,” Peslak said. “They’re an excellent team. Winning a sectional title is one of our goals, but it’s not THE goal. That comes in another week (referring to the Group 4 championship game in Toms River on June 8).
Mount St. Dominic (24-6) downed Union Catholic, 10-0, in six innings as Olivia Gemma hit a homer and the Lions got a well pitched game from Sam Platt and Gemma.
The Lions face a big test on Friday when it hosts Paramus Catholic in a North, Non-Public B semifinal. The winner could face top-ranked Immaculate Heart Academy for the North championship next week.
Mount St. Dominic’s outstanding team balance means just about any player can make a big contribution to what has been a marvelous season thus far. One of those key players has been Gabby Lombardi, a sophomore shortstop who was outstanding in a win over Bloomfield on May 27. Lombardi had three hits and made some clutch plays on defense.
The Mount beat the Bengals, 5-1, at The Pond in Bloomfield. It was a game the Lions didn’t need, while it was Bloomfield’s season finale. But the Lions, knowing that momentum is sometimes the next opponent on the schedule, beat a 19-win team and Lombardi, a wonderful young woman off the field who comes from a very nice family, was a big reason why.
The Minutemen of Newark Academy (21-7) will play in the North Non-Public B semifinal on Friday against Oak Knoll after blanking Morris Catholic today, 2-0.
Coach Serg Rodriguez’s team could face powerful Lodi Immaculate for the North Non-Public B championship next week.
West Essex lost a 1-0 game to Hanover Park in the semifinals of North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 while Nutley was eliminated in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3, by West Morris Central, 9-1. The Raiders had an outstanding season, winning 22 games.