Early upsets in NJSIAA baseball state tournament

by Marc Narducci | Jun 1, 2023
Early upsets in NJSIAA baseball state tournament
This has been a South Jersey high school baseball season with many surprises and plenty of parity. That was shown during the quarterfinal round of the South Jersey playoffs. 

It is so difficult to win a sectional title in any sport and baseball is no exception, especially because teams need to be deep in pitching.

In two of the four public school groups, the top seeded team was eliminated in the quarterfinal round.

 In Group 3, top seeded Shawnee lost a 3-1 quarter final decision to No. 8 Mainland. 

Shawnee (22-4) enjoyed a strong season. The Renegades won the Olympic Conference Patriot Division, which included two teams that advanced to South Jersey semifinal games – Cherry West and Seneca.

In fact, Shawnee may have been the biggest hard-luck team in South Jersey. The Renegades were the top seed in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, but fell to Cherry Hill West, 2-0 in the first round.

Yet, during the regular season Shawnee beat Cherry Hill West twice, 4-3 and 2-1. So in three meetings, Shawnee scored six runs and Cherry Hill West scored six.

Those two regular season wins proved to be the main reason Shawnee was the Patriot Division champion. The Renegades finished 7-1 in the division, while West was 5-3.

It also shows how difficult the division was. Shawnee’s one division loss was to Seneca, 3-2, while West’s other division loss besides the two games to Shawnee was 3-2 to Moorestown. 

Notice how close the games were in the division.

So Shawnee enjoyed a fine year, but one off-game offensively is what ended its season. 

Not surprisingly, it was a Patriot Division team that knocked off the other No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals. Seneca, which is seeded No. 9, defeated top seeded Cedar Creek, 7-2, in the South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinal. 

That win improved Seneca’s record to 11-13 (the same record that Mainland improved to after beating Shawnee).

It goes to show that nothing is easy in the state tournament. 

Like Shawnee, Cedar Creek played in a difficult division, the Cape Atlantic National. That was among the more competitive small-school divisions. Buena, the top seed in South Jersey Group 1, won the division with an 11-1 mark, while Cedar Creek was second at 9-3.

Cedar Creek, which finished 19-8, earned a berth into the Diamond Classic and beat Mainland, 9-4, in the play-in round. (Yes, that’s the same Mainland team that ousted Shawnee).

After that Cedar Creek lost to Group 4 Egg Harbor Township, 9-2, in a Diamond Classic first round game. 

Cedar Creek had some impressive wins, including a 5-2 victory over Group 4 Millville, a 3-1 win over Mainland and a 12-11 victory over SJ Group 3 semifinalist Hammonton.

On that day, Seneca picked an opportune time to have one of its best games of the season. Football quarterback Brayden Davis had three hits and three RBI to lead the victory over Cedar Creek.

No doubt Seneca benefited from playing such a difficult schedule and it paid off against a talented Cedar Creek team.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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