Diamond Classic should be another classic

by Marc Narducci | May 3, 2023
Diamond Classic should be another classic
One of the top tournaments for any high school sport in South Jersey is the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, which has announced its expanded field. As usual, there will be plenty of contenders.
This is the 49th edition of the Diamond Classic, but the first that will feature a 24-team field. Recently, there has been a 16-team field in this single-elimination tournament.
What’s great about the Diamond as it has evolved over the years, is that it is scheduled to end before the beginning of the NJSIAA state tournament. 
So teams won’t have to choose among pitchers for both tournaments, although there is still a decision to make if a pitcher should throw in the Diamond or pitch in a conference game.
St. Augustine is the defending champion, having beaten Lenape, 4-2, in last year’s title game. 
The first round, which consists of teams 9 through 24, has to be played by May 3. The conclusion of the second round must be done by May 6.
May 10 is the date for the conclusion of the third round. The first three rounds will be at the higher-seeded team. 

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The semifinals are scheduled for May 13 at Deptford with games at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 
The championship will be on May 17 at Alcyon Park in Pitman beginning at 6:30. 
Shawnee has earned the No. 1 seed. After losing a 10-6 opening-day decision to Cherokee, Shawnee then won its next 12 games by the Diamond Classic cutoff date. Shawnee has since beaten four teams that have earned a berth in the Diamond. 
The other seven teams that earned a first-round bye are No. 2 Gloucester Catholic, No. 3 St. Augustine, No. 4 Egg Harbor Township, No. 5 Kingsway, No. 6 Bishop Eustace, No. 7 Vineland and No. 8 Buena.
Here are the other seeds – (9) Audubon, (10) Cherokee, (11) Haddon Heights, (12) Delsea, (13) Cedar Creek, (14) Cherry Hill East, (15) Paul VI, (16) Lenape, (17) Cherry Hill West, (18) Ocean City, (19) Cinnaminson, (20) Mainland, (21) Collingswood, (22) Pennsville, (23) Lower Cape May and (24) Holy Cross.
The best part of the Diamond Classic and other tournaments such as the South Jersey Boys and Girls Soccer Coaches Tournaments, is that it matches up schools of all sizes against one another. 
For instance, there are Group 1 schools such as Audubon, Buena and Pennsville in this year’s tournament and they get to compete against the larger enrollment schools.
Certain teams that were leading their division at the April 29 cutoff, earned a berth. Then several at-large teams were selected by the committee of voters, which seeded the teams 1-24.  
The Diamond Classic also uses speed-up rules, the same type applied this year in Major League Baseball each year. For instance, the pitcher must wind up within 20 seconds after he receives the ball from the catcher. A batter also must be in the box within 10 seconds after the clock starts or a strike will be called against him.
Over the years, this has made the games go at a crisp pace. In fact, it would be a great idea for all high school games to play under these rules.
Either way, it’s a great tournament that gets teams prepared for the upcoming state tournament.

Author: Marc Narducci


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