Baseball – Shore Sports Network Top 10, April 17
1. Christian Brothers Academy (9-1, 5-0) Last Week: 1
There was some sentiment that CBA should be the preseason No. 1 team more because of what its four returning players accomplished last year rather than what was on hand this year. Two-plus weeks into the season, it could not be more clear who the top team in the conference is at this point. The Colts will have to get through Manalapan and Marlboro this week to complete the first turn through Class A North, but even if there are some slip-ups to come, the Colts and their 21-game winning streak against N.J. competition are far ahead of the Shore field at this point.
2. Howell (6-1, 5-1) Last Week: 6
The Rebels were on the verge of grabbing the top spot in the rankings when they took a late 4-1 lead on CBA, but the Colts late-game magic bit the Rebels in a 5-4 CBA win. Even without that big win, the Rebels still picked up quality wins over Marlboro and Manchester, both of which have played well out of the gate. Howell has a big showdown with Middletown South on Monday as the A North race heats up.
3. Marlboro (6-1, 4-1) Last Week: 3
The Mustangs’ pitching continues to shine despite the loss to Howell on Monday interrupted an otherwise flawless start. Every high school team is going to have an off game and that probably is a fair characterization of Marlboro’s game at Howell, which included some control issues by its top three pitchers as well as a rare three-error game. The Mustangs have a chance to make a statement on Wednesday when they take on CBA and likely ace Luca Dalatri.
4. Middletown South (5-2, 4-2) Last Week: 4
The Eagles took Dalatri and CBA to extra innings, but Brandon Martorano came through with a clutch homer in the eighth and Dalatri was ultimately too much to handle as he struck out 19. Middletown South bounced back with a win over Freehold Boro and took down Southern on Saturday to roll into Monday’s big showdown at Howell.
5. Red Bank Catholic (6-1, 5-0) Last Week: 2
Although RBC has an offense that stacks up to any lineup in the Shore Conference, the Caseys lineup has run hot and cold so far and it finally cost them Saturday against Barnegat. They scored nine runs against Matawan ace Adam Elliot on opening day, 13 against Ocean and 20 against Neptune. On the flip side, RBC scored just two against Red Bank ace Nick Massa and four against Monmouth recruit and Wall right-hander Regan Dombroski – walk-off win by the Caseys. Hitting downturns happen to every team s there is no real concern here, especially sincee RBC has been pretty solid in the pitching-and-defense department.
6. Point Pleasant Boro (7-0, 6-0) Last Week: 6
There’s a new No. 1 in Ocean County. The Panthers debut in the Top 10 after beating a talented Manalapan team that is going through some issues right now. Point Boro is technically unbeaten and even if the loss to Jason Groome and Barnegat was not overturned via forfeit, the Panthers would be debuting this week. They sport a deep, senior-heavy lineup and also have plenty of pitching depth, led by junior Josiah Gliddon and senior Frank Graziano. With Groome still slated to be ineligible when Barnegat and Point Boro meet for a second time on April 25, it’s hard to see any B South team passing the Panthers.
7. Jackson Memorial (5-1, 5-0) Last Week: 7
The Jaguars looked poised for a leap into the top five, but got ambushed by Jackson Liberty on Saturday for their first loss of the season. In the grand scheme of things, that loss shouldn’t be much more than a dose of reality for a relatively inexperienced team that has the talent to be good but might have started to develop an air of invincibility after another convincing win Friday against Brick Memorial. Colin McCulligh, Shawn Kelich and Tim Halasnik have all performed well on the mound along with senior Chris Hawryluk and the offense has been a group effort. Toms River East and Toms River South await this upcoming week.
8. Barnegat (3-4, 2-4) Last Week: 8
Normally, sub-.500 teams don’t make the top 10 but extenuating circumstances keep Barnegat in for another week. If not for the Groome ruling on Thursday, Barnegat would be 5-2 and while it’s valid to argue that he was supposed to be sitting and thus the 3-4 record is legitimate, it’s also worth keeping in mind that when the games start to count more, Groome will be eligible. More importantly, by beating RBC on Saturday, the Bengals showed they are not just a one-trick pony and have the chops to win tough games when their ace does not pitch – a must come tournament time.
9. Colts Neck (5-3, 4-1) Last Week: 5
Like RBC, Colts Neck has been all over the place when it comes to hitting. The Cougars did put up 14 runs in a win over Red Bank Regional this week, but bookended that outburst by getting one-hit by Dan Chiusano and Freehold Boro, then getting shutout by Mike Mercier and Middletown North. Colts Neck also lost to Matawan during its 1-3 week, but a win over Ocean is keeping the Cougars afloat as a top-10 entity.
10. Ocean (8-2, 3-2) Last Week: 10
The Spartans stayed in the top 10 hunt thanks to a 3-2 win over Freehold Boro on Saturday. A lopsided loss to RBC slowed some of the Spartans’ momentum, but Ocean has still shown an improved offense while sporting a top line of pitchers that have been mostly effective so far.
Brick Memorial (7-2, 4-1) Last Week: 9 – The Mustangs slip out of the rankings but at 7-2, they are still right on the cusp. A good week against the likes of Southern, Toms River North and Freehold Township likely get the Mustangs back in.
On the Bubble
Toms River North (3-3, 2-2) – Fresh off a win over North Carolina recruit Robbie Peto and Monroe that came a day after a one-run loss to No. 1 CBA, the young Mariners look like they are starting to round into form.
Freehold Boro (4-5, 2-4) – A tough schedule has been somewhat rude to the Colonials and this up-and-down tendency they have assumed is a lot like the one they had last year, when they eventually turned it on in the state tournament.
Manchester (4-3, 4-2) – The Hawks have looks like an improved club, evidenced by a winning record and a competitive showing against No. 2 Howell on Saturday.
Toms River South (5-3, 4-2) – The loss to Central is going to hamper Toms River South when it comes to rankings, but a win over Jackson Memorial this week could bury that line of discussion.
Point Pleasant Beach (6-0, 5-0) – The Garnet Gulls get a nod this week as one of the last two remaining unbeaten team in the Shore Conference - both of which are, conincidentally, from Point Pleasant. The Gulls will take on St. Rose to begin the week.