Gloucester Catholic’s title highlights South Jersey baseball playoffs

by Marc Narducci | Jun 9, 2023
Gloucester Catholic’s title highlights South Jersey baseball playoffs
Teams from the seven-county South Jersey area earned five South Jersey baseball championships, led by Gloucester Catholic. 

The Rams won their 29th South Jersey title with a 4-1 win over Ranney. While Ranney isn’t from the seven-county South Jersey area, it was among the non-South Jersey schools that competed in the South Non-Public B playoffs.

Even though Gloucester Catholic was the top seed, Ranney was looked on as the favorite since it entered the week ranked No. 2 in the state by NJ.com. (Gloucester Catholic was No. 7 so this wasn’t a monumental upset). In fact, Gloucester Catholic fans would say it wasn’t an upset at all.

Gloucester Catholic’s winning pitcher was senior lefthander Tanner Nolan, one of the top pitchers in the state. Anytime he is on the mound, the Rams have the ability to beat anybody in New Jersey. Nolan struck out nine and allowed three hits over six innings in earning the win.

Catcher Damon Suriani was among the offensive standouts, going 3-for-3 with an RBI. 

That was the third title this year for the Rams. They won the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, which consists of the best teams in South Jersey and also captured the Tri-County Royal Division title.

The only other No. 1 seed from the seven-county South Jersey area to win a sectional title was Buena, which beat second seeded Audubon, 8-4 to win the SJ Group 1 title. 

Joey Kurtz allowed one earned run over six innings to earn the win for Buena, which had to overcome a 4-2 deficit entering the bottom of the third inning. 

It was the second time this year Buena beat Audubon, having defeated the Green Wave, 5-0 in a first round Diamond Classic game. In that victory, Kurtz pitched a one-hitter. 

Audubon played a much better game this time, but Buena, which improved to 26-3, still enjoyed an impressive win.

The other champions from the seven-county South Jersey area were two No. 9 seeds – Seneca in Group 2 and Mainland in Group 3 and No. 11 seeded Eastern in Group 4.

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The only team not from the seven-county SJ area to win a South Jersey title was Non-Public A champion Red Bank Catholic.

Seneca defeated defending champion Haddon Heights, 5-0 to win the SJ Group 2 crown. The Golden Eagles entered the tournament with a 9-13 record, but hit their stride at the right time. Aydan Davis pitched a complete-game seven-hitter in the championship game.

No doubt Seneca benefited from playing in the rugged Olympic Conference.

The same can be said of Eastern, which finished in last place in the Olympic Conference American Division with a 2-5-1 mark, but beat American Division co-champ Rancocas Valley, 2-0, in the SJ Group 4 final. 

It was the third shutout in four playoff games for Eastern. Pitchers Pat Karbach and Logan Dawson combined to pitch the shutout in the championship game. 

Mainland earned a 6-4 decision over No. 2 seeded Delsea in the SJ Group 3 final. The Mustangs entered the tournament with just a 9-13 record, but like Seneca, got hot at the right time.

Trailing 4-2, Mainland scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning. Junior Cohen Cook earned the win with a complete-game effort.

This year’s South Jersey tournament was expected to be wide open in most Groups, and that is exactly what happened in a clearly unpredictable postseason.


Author: Marc Narducci

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