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***Fine pitching coaches continue to enhance the fortunes for teams vying in NJSIAA state tourney as action heats up for Essex schools!

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***Red-hot MKA, which is fresh off prep B tourney title, will now set sights on defense of NJSIAA Non-Public, Group B crown. See much more in "Feature Articles"

***Seton Hall Prep teammates are ready to lead the North in Simms Classic before playing at opposing colleges. See more in "The Buzz"


Catcher John Marco Maiello delivered a go-ahead RBI hit in the fifth inning and served as batterymate for solid starting pitcher Tyler Chen (right) as Livingston edged Columbia, 3-2, in a North 1, Group 4 first round contest Friday afternoon at The Oval. (Sideline Chatter photo)

Livingston Rides Chen & Patient Approach
To Fend Off Carlucci & Columbia In N1G4

By Steve Tober

LIVINGSTON- Tyler Chen was already keeping busy enough as Livingston’s starting left fielder, but he still made sure to keep up with his work on the side as a pitcher for the Lancers while patiently waiting for a chance to show what he could do; and even if his first start on the mound wouldn’t come until mid-May was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

His first start on May 16th was a magnificent 4-hit hitter as Livingston clinched the Super Essex Conference-American Division title with a 7-1 win over its closest rival  Seton Hall Prep, which would in turn go on to win the 91st Greater Newark Tournament in defeating the Lancers two days later.
However, the NJSIAA state tournament is a whole new season and pitching-deep Livingston, which now has four legitimate starters it can turn to, went with its most recent addition to the rotation for a second key start in the season’s stretch run.  

On a warm and sunny Friday afternoon to kickoff the busy Memorial Day weekend, Chen toed the rubber against a dangerous Columbia team in a North 1, Group 4 first-round clash; and even he might have been overshadowed early on by the Cougars’ impressive Rutgers commit Jared Carlucci, who was mowing down Lancer batters early on, Chen emerged once again in a huge spot with a complete game performance while scattering seven hits, walking one and striking out five in a narrow 3-2 Lancers victory.

“I’ve been training throughout the season and was waiting for my opportunity to get in and I finally got that chance against the Prep and was able to compete which is all the coaches want out of all the pitchers,” said the Lancers emerging junior right-hander. “The curve ball is my best pitch. (Livingston pitching coach) Corey (Feigenbaum) likes the curve to keep them off balance and then bang them late with the fast ball.

“All our pitchers just try and throw strikes because we know that we have a great defense behind us which you saw again today.”

One of those terrific plays by the Lancers came in the fifth inning of a 3-2 game when after Columbia’s cleanup hitter Isaac Buchalter delivered a single, Orlando Shin blistered a hard-hit grounder toward the third base bag where the Lancers’ Robbie Lynn snared it and threw across the diamond for a big second out in the frame and Chen was able to get out of any further trouble.

Pitching, defense and patience at the plate proved the difference as third-seeded Livingston (19-7-1) moves into the N1G4 sectional quarterfinals where it will host sixth-seeded Passaic Tech 4 p.m. Wednesday (May 29).

Columbia (9-16-1), which had high hopes entering the spring, ended the season with its 13th loss in its final 14 games, although the 14th-seeded Cougars showed a great deal of grit and determination while their ace Carlucci, the 6-foot-6 senior right-hander, allowed just two hits, but was by issuing six walks to go along with his eight strikeouts.

Chen (2-0) allowed single runs in the second inning on a well-hit Carlucci RBI double and then after the Lancers were unable to turn a double play in the fifth, but was otherwise superb in making it two complete game victories in two starts this spring.

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