The landscape of Shore Conference baseball as it pertains to the Shore Conference Tournament is anything but clear, but it's not going to be any more clear than it is right now, which is some 36 hours before the SCT seeds will be released. Over the last week, Freehold Township has solidified its case to be the No. 1 team in the field, while Toms River East and Colts Neck have done enough to remain in the conversation.

All things considered, there have been enough answered questions over the last week to put together a reasonable list of seeds, even if what you are about to read is no such list. Here's hoping the committee can sort through the mess.

 

1. Freehold Township (14-4, 9-4)

Division Wins: Colts Neck (2), Marlboro (2), Middletown North (2), at CBA, at Howell, at Middletown South
Division Losses: CBA, at Howell, at Manalapan, Middletown South
Non-Division Wins: At Manchester, at Wall, Red Bank (MCT), at Red Bank Catholic (MCT), at Rumson-Fair Haven (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: None
Why They’re Here: Friday’s impressive 7-0 win over Rumson and senior Seton Hall recruit Shane McCarthy should lock up the No. 1 seed for the Patriots. Even though Freehold Township trails Colts Neck by a game in the Class A North standings, the Patriots have beaten the Cougars twice and have those wins over CBA, Red Bank Catholic and Wall to anchor an impressive résumé. It also doesn’t hurt that Freehold Township’s only loss in the last 12 games was against CBA ace Luca Dalatri.

Hot-hitting Chris Talbott and Freehold Township look like the class of the Shore Conference heading into this week's Shore Conference Tournament. (Photo by Matt Manley)

2. Toms River East (14-4-1, 10-3-1)

Division Wins: Brick (2), Brick Memorial (2), Lacey (2), Southern (2), at Toms River North, Toms River South
Division Losses: At Jackson Memorial, Toms River North, at Toms River South
Division Tie: Jackson Memorial
Non-Division Wins: At Monsignor Donovan, Ferris, Monsignor Donovan (OCT), Jackson Liberty
Non-Division Losses: Toms River North (OCT)
Why They’re Here: Toms River East was probably a safe bet to hold down the No. 2 spot regardless of Saturday’s results, but beating Jackson Liberty ace Dan Serreino – albeit with only one hit in the game – sealed the deal. The Raiders are, at the very least, co-champions of one of the two toughest top-to-bottom divisions in the conference and with a few more wins against top-10 caliber teams than Colts Neck, they edge out the Cougars for this spot.

3. Colts Neck (13-3, 10-3)

Division Wins: Howell (2), Manalapan (2), Marlboro (2), Middletown North (2), Middletown South (2)
Division Losses: Freehold Twp. (2), CBA
Non-Division Wins: At Monsignor Donovan, Matawan (MCT), Manalapan (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: None
Why They’re Here: The Cougars should be no worse than No. 4 based on a 13-3 overall record with lots of solid wins and a co-championship in a tough A North division. It’s hard to compare Class A North and A South at this point because there has not been one game between A South and A North teams this year, so even though it appears as though Toms River East has more noteworthy wins, that’s far from a definitive assessment. The only real difference is that there are two teams in Colts Neck’s division (CBA and Freehold Township) that it has not yet defeated while Toms River East has not yet beaten Jackson Memorial, but does have an official tie against the Jaguars until the game is restarted this coming week.

4. Central (12-5, 7-4)

Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Jackson Liberty, Lakewood, at Manchester, Monsignor Donovan, Point Boro
Division Losses: At Jackson Liberty, Manchester, at Monsignor Donovan, at Pinelands
Non-Division Wins: Mater Dei Prep, at Lacey, Point Boro (OCT), at Toms River South (OCT), Toms River North (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: At Toms River South
Why They’re Here: Some of Central’s losses – namely to Manchester, Monsignor Donovan and Pinelands – are somewhat unbecoming of a team in the top five, however it’s time to start treating the Golden Eagles like Freehold Township. While the projected top seed has won 11 of 12, Central has won seven in a row and nine out of 10, with only a 5-4 loss to Jackson Liberty during that stretch. The offense has come to life and on top of running out, arguably, the Shore’s best pitcher in Andrew DiPiazza, Central has found a reliable No. 2 in junior Anthony Arneth. With two wins over Barnegat, splits with Jackson Liberty and Toms River South, and a recent OCT win over Toms River North, it’s time to seriously start considering Central as one of the top few teams in the Shore Conference.

5. Christian Brothers Academy (10-5, 8-5)

Division Wins: Middletown South (2), at Colts Neck, at Freehold Twp., at Howell, at Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown North
Division Losses: Freehold Twp., at Howell, Manalapan, at Marlboro, at Middletown North
Non-Division Wins: St. Rose (MCT), at Wall (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: None
Why They’re Here: The current three-game slide is certainly unsettling when evaluating the Colts, but remember, Barnegat went through the same thing and it didn’t matter once it got its ace back on the mound. CBA is in a similar situation, with sophomore Luca Dalatri waiting to take the mound Monday night at FirstEnergy Park for the MCT semifinals against Freehold Township. While CBA cost itself a shot at the No. 1 seed and might have lost a chance to play at home in the quarterfinals, it still has the top pitcher that no one wants to face.

6. Wall (15-4, 12-0)

Division Wins: Freehold (2), Long Branch (2), Matawan (2), Neptune (2), Ocean (2), Red Bank (2)
Division Losses: None
Non-Division Wins: At Brick Memorial, St. Rose, Freehold (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: Freehold Twp., CBA (MCT), at Manasquan, Old Bridge
Why They’re Here: Thanks to Ocean’s win over Middletown South on Saturday, Wall may have a renewed case to be a top-four seed. That ultimately won’t happen because of the 11-0 loss to CBA – which itself can’t be higher than No. 4 unless we are completely discounting Ocean County – but it at least prevents Wall from sliding outside the top eight. While there are no great wins on Wall’s résumé, the Knights have gone 7-2 against the SCT field and went unbeaten in a division that, while not spectacular, has stepped up for some key non-division wins this season.

7. Barnegat (12-7, 7-7)

Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), Monsignor Donovan (2), Lakewood, Manchester, Pinelands
Division Losses: Central (2), Point Boro (2), at Lakewood, at Manchester, at Pinelands
Non-Division Wins: St. John Vianney, Toms River North, Pinelands (OCT), Jackson Liberty (OCT), at Jackson Memorial (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: None
Why They’re Here: Perhaps the hardest team in the field to break down, Barnegat is the total opposite of Wall. The Bengals have been anything but consistent over the course of their schedule, but they have been consistently good in big games outside the division. Barnegat went 7-7 in a top-heavy Class B South while going a modest 6-5 against non-SCT teams, but the Bengals are also 5-0 outside the division and 6-2 against SCT teams, with just two losses to Central. Considering the Bengals are a seven-loss team with so many losses to teams with losing records, a top-eight seed is pretty good.

8. St. John Vianney (14-5, 12-2)

Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Raritan (2), Red Bank Catholic (2), Rumson-Fair Haven (2), Shore (2), Monmouth, Manasquan
Division Losses: At Manasquan, at Monmouth
Non-Division Wins: Long Branch (MCT), at Brick Memorial
Non-Division Losses: Barnegat, Washington Twp., at Middletown South (MCT)
Why They’re Here: The Lancers nailed down the Class A Central championship Friday and beat a quality Brick Memorial team on Saturday to solidify a top-eight seed. The Lancers have a comparable résumé to Wall and one could argue the two wins over Red Bank Catholic are the difference, but Wall went unbeaten in its division, which is not markedly worse top-to-bottom based on this year’s results. As far as the Jackson Memorial comparison goes, the Lancers are playing better lately and two wins over Red Bank Catholic is as impressive, if not more so, than Jackson Memorial’s one win over No. 2 Toms River East. Despite missing out on a bye, the Lancers should feel pretty good about any match-up they get because of the depth of their lineup.

9. Jackson Memorial (13-6-1, 9-4-1)

Division Wins: Lacey (2), Southern (2), at Brick, Brick Memorial, Toms River East, at Toms River North, at Toms River South
Division Losses: Brick, at Brick Memorial, Toms River North, Toms River South
Division Tie: at Toms River East
Non-Division Wins: Manasquan, South Plainfield, Southern (OCT), Brick (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: At Jackson Liberty, Barnegat (OCT)
Why They’re Here: Jackson Memorial’s entire body of work is probably a tad better than that of St. John Vianney, but the Jaguars have had some recent struggles that could give St. John Vianney an edge. Against common opponents, each team is 2-2, and factoring in Jackson Memorial’s remaining hope to win a share of a division title makes this a very close call, with the higher seed earning the home game in the round of 16. Although Jackson Memorial plays in a tougher division and its best win is better than Vianney’s best win, the Jaguars are 6-5-1 against the SCT field, while St. John Vianney is 7-3. That, plus the Jaguars’ 3-3-1 record over their last six – albeit against strong competition – probably gives the Lancers the edge.

10. Red Bank Catholic (15-4, 11-3)

Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Manasquan (2), Monmouth (2), Raritan (2), Rumson-Fair Haven (2), at Shore
Division Losses: St. John Vianney (2), Shore
Non-Division Wins: North Hunterdon, Randolph, St. Rose, Red Bank
Non-Division Losses: Freehold Twp. (MCT)
Why They’re Here: The Caseys would be a likely top-four seed if they could have pulled off one win against St. John Vianney, but because St. John Vianney has to go ahead of RBC and the Lancers can’t go much higher than No. 8, RBC is pretty much stuck here. Regardless of where Red Bank Catholic is seeded, the Caseys will be a threat to win the whole thing if their pitching continues to shine like it has over the last 12 games.

11. Toms River South (11-6-1, 7-5-1)

Division Wins: Lacey (2), Brick, at Jackson Memorial, at Southern, Toms River East, at Toms River North
Division Losses: Brick Memorial (2), Jackson Memorial, Southern, at Toms River East
Division Tie: At Brick
Non-Division Wins: Central, Long Branch, Bayonne, Lakewood (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: Central (OCT)
Why They’re Here: Toms River South has, itself, been a little up-and-down this year and Jackson Memorial’s recent struggles probably limited how much of an impact the Indians’ win over the Jaguars had on the seeding. It may seem that, in light of losses by Jackson Memorial and Toms River North in the OCT semifinals, Class A South is getting an unfair shake in this projection, when the division merely went from being treated as the best at the top to being treated as the deepest. The Indians’ fall from No. 8 a day ago to No. 11 today illustrates that and considering Toms River South has three losses to teams outside the tournament and is 5-3 against the field, this seed is about right.

12. Toms River North (11-7, 8-5)

Division Wins: Lacey (2), Southern (2), Brick, Brick Memorial, at Jackson Memorial, at Toms River East
Division Losses: At Brick, at Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial, Toms River East, Toms River South
Non-Division Wins: Jackson Liberty, Manchester (OCT), at Toms River East (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: At Barnegat, at Central (OCT)
Why They’re Here: The Mariners fell five spots to No. 12, not because of their loss to Central and Andrew DiPiazza, but rather because of a number of losses by A South teams on Saturday (Jackson Memorial to Barnegat, Brick Memorial to St. John Vianney and Manasquan). The Mariners appear to have the makings of a résumé that is superior to that of Toms River South, but because the Indians won the only meeting between the two, they get the nod for the higher seed. If Toms River North could clear Toms River South, it would also likely go ahead of Red Bank Catholic based solely on two wins in three games against No. 2 Toms River East.

13. Jackson Liberty (13-7, 10-4)

Division Wins: Lakewood (2), Manchester (2), Monsignor Donovan (2), Point Boro (2), Central, Pinelands
Division Losses: Barnegat (2), at Central, at Pinelands
Non-Division Wins: Brick, Jackson Memorial, Lacey (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: at Toms River North, at Barnegat (OCT), at Toms River East
Why They’re Here: The Lions are an example of how winning a division doesn’t necessarily guarantee seeding over other teams in one’s division, mostly because of tournament games and pitching match-ups. With three losses to Barnegat and a split vs. a Central team that is in the OCT final, the Lions have to be the third B South team seeded, even though they have already wrapped up a share of the division title. An early-season blowout loss to Toms River North means the Lions have to go behind the Mariners, but it’s pretty clear Jackson Liberty has put its early-season struggles behind it.

14. Matawan (12-7, 8-4)

Division Wins: Neptune (2), Ocean (2), Red Bank (2), Freehold, Long Branch
Division Losses: Wall (2), at Freehold, at Long Branch
Non-Division Wins: Academy Charter, at Montville, Howell (MCT), Keansburg
Non-Division Losses: At Raritan, at Colts Neck (MCT), at Carteret
Why They’re Here: The Huskies make a major jump into the top-16 thanks to Ocean’s win at Middletown South Saturday, coupled with a Monmouth County Tournament win against Howell. Like Barnegat, Matawan has a few losses (Long Branch, Raritan, Carteret) that don’t look good, but teams get rewarded for important wins and with two wins over Ocean and one over Howell, Matawan has done enough to move ahead of the A North crowd.

15. Howell (8-8, 6-7)

Division Wins: Middletown South (2), CBA, Freehold Twp., Manalapan, Marlboro
Division Losses: Colts Neck (2), Middletown North (2), CBA, at Freehold Twp., at Manalapan
Non-Division Wins: At Monsignor Donovan, Shore
Non-Division Losses: At Matawan (MCT)
Why They’re Here: Howell also moves forward because of Matawan’s advancement because prior to that Ocean win over Middletown South, he Huskies were holding back Howell’s résumé. Now that Matawan has been further validated, Howell’s two wins over Middletown South and its wins over CBA and Freehold Township carry a whole lot more weight, enough to give the Rebels a first-round home game.

16. Ocean (13-6, 8-4)

Division Wins: Freehold (2), Long Branch (2), Neptune (2), Red Bank (2)
Division Losses: Wall (2), Matawan (2)
Non-Division Wins: Elmira Southside (N.Y.), Whitesboro (N.Y.), Mater Dei Prep, at Monmouth, at Middletown South
Non-Division Losses: New Hope-Solebury (Pa.), Marlboro (MCT)
Why They’re Here: Beating Middletown South on Saturday gave Ocean a solid non-divisional win to take to the seeding meeting, not only for the Spartans themselves, but also for all of Class B North. Two losses to Matawan prevent Ocean from making a major push forward, but they can at least jump Middletown South and Manalapan after Saturday’s win, which helps negate a loss to Marlboro in the MCT first round.

17. Middletown South (9-9, 6-8)

Division Wins: Manalapan (2), Marlboro (2), at Freehold Twp., Middletown North
Division Losses: CBA (2), Colts Neck (2), Howell (2), Freehold Twp., at Middletown North
Non-Division Wins: Holmdel, St. John Vianney (MCT), Middletown North (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: Ocean
Why They’re Here: At .500 on the nose, Middletown South probably won’t do much better than No. 15, but the Eagles have enough quality wins to keep arguing their way up the list. They have wins over top-10 teams Freehold Township and St. John Vianney and also have two wins over Manalapan. Ultimately, however, a 6-8 division record and a loss to Ocean on Saturday are going to keep Middletown South in the middle part of the field.

18. Manalapan (10-10, 6-7)

Division Wins: Middletown North (2), at CBA, Freehold Twp., Howell, Marlboro
Division Losses: Colts Neck (2), Middletown South (2), CBA, at Howell, at Marlboro
Non-Division Wins: Orchard Park (N.Y.), New Rochelle (N.Y.), Holmdel (MCT), at Monmouth (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: At Bayonne, St. Lucie (Fla.), at Colts Neck (MCT)
Why They’re Here: The Braves have wins over two top-five teams (Freehold Township and CBA) and although they miss a chance to add another by losing the Freehold Township game until after the cutoff, it at least means that they are in. Manalapan has had a roller-coaster season with a young team, but now that the Braves are in, they could be dangerous.

19. Brick (9-9-1, 6-7-1)

Division Wins: Lacey (2), at Brick Memorial, at Jackson Memorial, Southern, Toms River North
Division Losses: Toms River East (2), Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial, at Southern, at Toms River North, at Toms River South
Division Tie: Toms River South
Non-Division Wins: Mater Dei Prep, at Point Beach, at Brick Memorial (OCT)
Non-Division Losses: Jackson Liberty, at Jackson Memorial (OCT)
Why They’re Here: The Green Dragons are in and have done enough inside a difficult division to warrant top-16 consideration, but a loss to Southern might raise some questions about their vulnerability. Lately, however, the Green Dragons have been pretty tough and ace Evan Lobato is starting to heat up on the mound, which should be a little disconcerting to any team that might run into the Dragons.

20. Shore (11-8, 8-6)

Division Wins: Manasquan (2), Raritan (2), Holmdel, at Monmouth, at Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven
Division Losses: St. John Vianney (2), at Holmdel, Monmouth, Red Bank Catholic, at Rumson-Fair Haven
Non-Division Wins: Long Branch, Freehold, at Red Bank
Non-Division Losses: Middletown North, Howell
Why They’re Here: Tuesday’s win over Rumson not only guaranteed Shore a spot in the tournament, but it’s also a nice résumé-booster that vaults them into the discussion for a first-round home game. The reason that probably won’t is because Ocean’s win over Middletown South greatly increased the value of Class B North and considering Ocean recently beat Monmouth 10-1, the second and third place teams of B North are going to jump ahead of A Central’s third-place team. The Blue Devils also can’t go ahead of Manalapan because the Braves beat Middletown North twice, but Shore has a win over Red Bank Catholic going for it, which might help it improve on this seed.

21. Rumson-Fair Haven (10-8, 7-7)

Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Monmouth (2), Manasquan, at Raritan, Shore
Division Losses: Red Bank Catholic (2), St. John Vianney (2), at Manasquan, Raritan, at Shore
Non-Division Wins: Red Bank, Marlboro (MCT), Long Branch
Non-Division Losses: Freehold Township (MCT)
Why They’re Here: Rumson falls to No. 21 more because of Ocean’s win over Middletown South than because of its loss to Raritan. With no division title to play for, Rumson is lining up its pitching for the coming week and looking to gear up for a run through the SCT and NJSIAA Tournaments with Shane McCarthy and Morgan Maguire at the front of the staff. Although its lack of impact wins during the season relegates Rumson to a seed in the 20s, the Bulldogs will be a tough draw for somebody in the first round because of the pitchers they can throw.

22. St. Rose (14-3, 14-0)

Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport (2), Mater Dei Prep (2), Point Beach (2), Ranney (2)
Division Losses: None
Non-Division Wins: None
Non-Division Losses: At Wall, at CBA (MCT), at Red Bank Catholic
Why They’re Here: Although the Purple Roses have only won inside the division, they have challenged themselves with games against Wall, CBA and Red Bank Catholic and were competitive in the second two. As usual, the record is much better than the résumé, but it’s still hard to tell if St. Rose is just a little behind those top teams or if this is about where they belong. Based on what has actually happened, this is where the Roses have to be.

23. Monmouth (11-9, 7-7)

Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Raritan (2), Manasquan, St. John Vianney, at Shore
Division Losses: Red Bank Catholic (2), Rumson-Fair Haven (2), at Manasquan, at St. John Vianney, Shore
Non-Division Wins: Long Branch, at Red Bank, Lakewood, at Freehold
Non-Division Losses: Manalapan (MCT), Ocean
Why They’re Here: Some recent losses to teams that are in this range – Ocean, Shore, Rumson, Manalapan – have overshadowed an early win over St. John Vianney. Dan Valerio ensured Monmouth will stay ahead of Freehold when he hit the go-ahead homer in the top of the seventh to give the Falcons a win over the Colonials.

24. Freehold (9-9, 6-5)

Division Wins: Long Branch (2), Neptune (2), Matawan, Red Bank
Division Losses: Ocean (2), Wall (2), at Matawan
Non-Division Wins: Chesterfield (Pa.), at Point Boro, Mater Dei Prep (MCT)
Non-Division Losses: At Shore, Washington Lee (Va.), at Wall (MCT), Monmouth
Why They’re Here: The Colonials had two golden opportunities to beat Wall and came up just short, which should speak to how dangerous they might be. In the end though, wins over Matawan and Mater Dei are all Freehold has going for it on the résumé.

25. Mater Dei Prep (12-6, 12-2)

Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport (2), Point Beach (2), Ranney (2)
Division Losses: St. Rose (2)
Non-Division Wins: None
Non-Division Losses: At Brick, at Central, at Freehold (MCT), at Ocean
Why They’re Here: The Seraphs swept Keansburg during the regular season, but were outscored 43-11 while going 0-4 against teams outside the division, which means they will only be ahead of the teams below them in the Class B Central standings.

26. Keansburg (9-7, 9-4)

Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Keyport (2), Point Beach (2), Ranney (2), at Henry Hudson
Division Losses: Mater Dei Prep (2), St. Rose (2)
Non-Division Wins: None
Non-Division Losses: Lakewood, Matawan, at Long Branch
Why They’re Here: The Titans were more competitive than Mater Dei Prep outside the division, but that’s because Mater Dei played a considerably tougher non-division schedule. That’s a moot point since Mater Dei swept the Titans and finished higher in the standings.