Baseball – SSN Top 10, May 30
With less than two weeks remaining in the baseball season, there is still plenty to be decided – not only in the state and conference tournaments, but also in the top 10. CBA has scratched and clawed to keep the No. 1 spot all year and these next 12 days will represent the final push to once again end the season as the state’s best team.
As for the rest of the field, Toms River South and Red Bank Catholic still have avenues to the No. 1 ranking and although Middletown South is already out of the state tournament, the Eagles will have a case if they can win the Shore Conference Tournament. Even in the bottom half of the rankings, a lot can still happen with previously unranked teams like Ocean, Wall, Brick, Manchester, Manasquan and St. Rose still alive.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (19-8, 9-5) Last Week: 1
With a Monmouth County Tournament already in hand, the Colts are one of three teams alive in both the Shore Conference and state tournaments and CBA is the only team of the four Shore Conference Tournament semifinalists that is not a regular-season division champion. At some point going, the Colts will have to win a tournament game without Luca Dalatri on the mound and it’s worth noting they have already done just that twice in one day while Dalatri was still dealing with a hamstring ailment.
2. Middletown South (22-5, 11-3) Last Week: 2
The Eagles suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Wall on Thursday in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Tournament in a game that looked as though Middletown South would once again come through thanks to some late-game heroics. Just like that, Middletown South is down to just the Shore Conference Tournament, although an outright Class A North championship would be a pretty significant accomplishment regardless of the outcome of the upcoming week.
3. Toms River North (17-9, 9-5) Last Week: 3
The Mariners’ season is over after a 2-0 loss at top-seeded Clearview in the South Jersey Group IV Tournament and although they won’t play as deep into the season as the other teams in the top five, Toms River North still has a standout body of work and an Ocean County Tournament title that all but guarantees them a top-five spot once the rankings go final.
4. Toms River South (22-7, 10-4) Last Week: 4
Despite checking in behind both Middletown South and Toms River North in this week’s top 10, Toms River South still has a chance to finish the season No. 1, while Toms River North does not have the same chance and Middletown South’s chances depend more on how other teams do. The Indians already have a Class A South title, a county tournament final appearance and are alive and well in both the South Jersey Group III and Shore Conference Tournaments.
5. Red Bank Catholic (21-6, 13-1) Last Week: 5
Everything that is true of Toms River South is also true of Red Bank Catholic: the Caseys are a division champion, finished runner-up in their county tournament, and still have a chance to win conference and state titles. RBC has not been able to solve CBA, but there is at least the chance that they will get to face the current No. 1 team with someone other than Luca Dalatri on the mound.
6. Brick (16-10, 6-8) Last Week: Not ranked
After sliding out of the rankings last week, Brick propelled itself back in by knocking off top-seeded Steinert in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III quarterfinals. Although Brick is the worst of the four CJ III teams remaining by seed, the Green Dragons have been playing the best. Since starting the season 1-5, Brick is 15-5 since – with four of the losses coming at the hands of Toms River South. Brick could even meet Toms River South for a fifth time in the Group III semifinals if both teams win their respective sectional titles.
7, Point Pleasant Boro (21-5, 14-0) Last Week: 6
A banner season came to a sudden end last week when Point Boro lost to Red Bank Catholic Wednesday in the SCT quarterfinals and again a day later to Manasquan in the Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals. The Panthers were an unbeaten division champion and ran into aces on back-to-back days to end their season.
8. Middletown North (14-11, 8-6) Last Week: 7
The Lions competed with the two best teams in the Shore Conference during the Class A North regular season and then ran into CBA in both the Monmouth County and Shore Conference Tournaments. A win in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV first round would have likely garnered Middletown North an extra spot, but as it is, they have likely done enough to finish the season in the top 10.
9. Freehold Boro (14-12, 6-8) Last Week: 8
A 6-1 win over Toms River North in the Shore Conference Tournament appeared to set the Colonials up for a big postseason, but they lost to South Brunswick and Toms River South in a three-day span to end their season. With wins over the Mariners and CBA, Freehold Boro has some top-level victories that will give them a strong case to be a top 10 team at the end of the season.
10. Colts Neck (15-8, 11-3) Last Week: 9
The Cougars remain in the top 10 at the moment and might have a strong case to stay here even if Ocean and Wall continue to make a run in the state tournament on the basis that they went 3-1 against those two teams. Wall beat Colts Neck once during the regular season, so a sectional title would likely put Colts Neck’s spot in some turmoil.
Marlboro (13-10, 8-6) Last Week: 10 – The Mustangs have a lot of talent coming back next year and will have a chance to crack the top 10 next year, both at the start and at the finish.
On the Bubble
Ocean (21-8, 10-4) – After surrendering leads to St. Rose and Point Boro two weeks ago, the Spartans survived a comeback by Allentown and won in 11 innings.
Wall (11-10, 8-6) – The Crimson Knights saved their biggest win of the season for the most important game, knocking off red-hot Middletown South in the Central Jersey Group III semifinals.
Manasquan (13-6, 9-3) – Few teams are better built to win a sectional title than Manasquan, which will try to continue to ride the Sheehan brothers to two more wins this week in CJ II.
St. Rose (19-6, 13-1) – The Purple Rose have a good chance to go on the road to St. Joseph of Hammonton and win their 20th game of the season and are very much a contender in the South Jersey Non-Public B bracket.
Manchester (13-11, 8-6) – The Hawks have been a streaky team this year and it appears they are on a hot streak. Manchester has won seven of eight, with the only loss coming to Ocean in the SCT.