Public School Baseball State Tournament Preview

by Marc Narducci | May 20, 2024
Public School Baseball State Tournament Preview
The NJSIAA baseball state tournament gets underway this week. At press time, the official seeds hadn’t been announced but listed below are the expected seeds based on NJ.com power points. 

Here is a look at the public school tournament. 

 

South Jersey Group 1

Defending champion: Buena

Outlook: Last year Audubon lost to Buena, 8-4 in the championship. Now Audubon is the projected top seed and the Green Wave will be very dangerous. Audubon finished second to Haddon Heights in the difficult Colonial Conference Liberty Division and the Green Wave also played a difficult non-league schedule. Junior shortstop Tyler Wiltsey, is the offensive catalyst from his leadoff spot. A Rutgers commit, he began the week hitting .400 (courtesy of NJ.com stats). Junior Nick Kalogiros had a 0.35 ERA in his first 40 1/3 innings with 51 strikeouts. Classmate Gabe McCracke, with a 3.18 ERA, given Audubon among the deepest staffs. Anybody from No. 2 Gloucester, No. 3 Pitman, No. 4 Pennsville or No. 5 Woodstown could win the title. Woodstown already owns an 8-3 win over Audubon, so that indicates the depth in Group 1.

 

South Jersey Group 2

Defending champion: Seneca

Outlook:  Seneca defeated Haddon Heights 5-0 in last year’s sectional final and the Golden Eagles are the projected top seed despite beginning the week with a 14-10 record. The Golden Eagles have played a difficult Olympic Conference schedule, which should help in the postseason. The day after Cherry Hill West won the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic title, Seneca beat the Lions, 2-1. Senior Aydan Davis, who got the win over C.H. West, has a 1.39 ERA in his first 50 1/3 innings, is the staff leader. Projected No. 2 seed Haddon Heights is a major contender led by two-way standout Drew Harris. The Garnets have already won the Colonial Conference Liberty Division. No. 3 seed Cinnaminson and No. 4 Cedar Creek are other contenders. A dark horse to watch is No. 7 Haddonfield, 

 

South Jersey Group 3

Defending champion: Mainland

Outlook: This might be the top public school Group in South Jersey. Diamond Classic champion Cherry Hill West is the top seed and very dangerous. The Lions are the only team to have defeated Gloucester Catholic. Senior Ryder Garino, a South Carolina commit, leads a strong pitching staff. Garino, the winner in West’s 3-1 championship victory over Delsea in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic championship, had a 0.50 ERA with 71 strikeouts in his first 41 2/3 innings. Alabama commit Jonathan Young leads a potent offense. A team to watch is No. 4 Delsea. The Crusaders lost 6-4 to Mainland in last year’s sectional final. Junior Frank Cairone, a Seton Hall commit, and senior George Starr, give Delsea one of the top pitching combos in any Group. No. 2 Hammonton and No. 3 Mainland will be threats. A dark horse to watch is No. 7 Shawnee, which has split two games against Cherry Hill West.

 

South Jersey Group 4

Defending champion:  Eastern

Outlook: Last year Eastern won as the No. 11 seed, beating No. 5 seed Rancocas Valley, 2-0 in the final. This year Eastern is the projected No. 5 seed and the Vikings will be dangerous. Rancocas Valley is the projected top seed and is certainly capable of winning the title. Others to watch include No. 2 Kingsway,

 No. 3 Southern Regional and No. 4 Cherokee. A dark horse could be No. 6 Lenape, which has split games with both Cherokee and Eastern. Cherokee is also a team to watch, with two wins over Rancocas Valley. Top seeded Rancocas Valley, which swept its two games with Eastern, is obviously a contender. This might be the most balanced Group in South Jersey.

Photo Gabe McCracken of Audubon/ Marc Narducci

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Author: Marc Narducci

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