Baseball – Top 10, April 21
Just shy of the halfway point of divisional play, the top contenders in the Shore Conference appear to be emerging. The top seven teams from last week’s top 10 all return to the top eight this week, and eight of the top 10 are back on the list as a whole.
The other trend to follow is the depth of Class A North, which has shown itself throughout the interdivisional schedule. With that in mind, Marlboro and CBA should be viewed as serious contenders to the No. 1 spot, even if there remains a clear No. 1 from outside A North.
1. Toms River North (6-1, 6-0) Last Week: 1
The Mariners kept on sailing through Class A South this past week and are gearing up for a second turn through the division with a chance to go a perfect 7-0 during the first turn if they can beat Lacey on Monday.
2. Christian Brothers Academy (8-1, 5-1) Last Week: 3
The 10-0 loss to Freehold appears to be a minor hiccup, as the Colts have outscored opponents 18-1 with shutouts against Middletown South and Howell and a 13-1 drubbing of Middletown North. As usual, the A North schedule will challenge CBA this week, with road games at Manalapan and Marlboro before hosting Freehold Township.
3. Marlboro (7-1, 5-1) Last Week: 4
Every coach hopes for pitching, defense and timely hitting, and Marlboro has had all three in spades. The only reason the Mustangs are not unbeaten is because of CBA ace Luca Dalatri and even then, the Mustangs came up with a couple big hits in that game that did not result in a run.
4. Red Bank Catholic (7-0, 5-0) Last Week: 6
The competition began to heat up for the Caseys last week and RBC responded like a team that is going to ready to challenge for the top spot in the Shore Conference. The Caseys took down Wall on Tuesday and hammered Toms River South on the road to cap the week. Colts Neck’s loss on Saturday means Tuesday’s game between the Cougars and the Caseys won’t be a battle of unbeatens, but it will still be for sole possession of first place in Class B North.
5. Colts Neck (8-1, 5-0) Last Week: 2
There are not really such things as upsets in regular-season baseball, so chalk up Saturday’s 5-3 win by Brick Memorial over Colts Neck as a very good win for a Mustangs team that has been the victim of some tough luck. Colts Neck, meanwhile, has its pitching lined up for a big week, which includes games against Red Bank Catholic and Ocean.
6. St. John Vianney (6-1, 4-1)
Since being no-hit by Tommy Sheehan and Jack Sheehan in an eight-inning loss to Manasquan, the Lancers have won five straight and have experienced an offensive awakening. On top of a deep lineup, Dan Schirmacher has been as good as expected at the front of the rotation while John Michael Broderick, Brandon DeKovics and Joey Raia have all performed well on the mound.
7. Toms River South (5-2, 5-1) Last Week: 5
The Indians fall a couple of spots but don’t take too much of a plunge because their only two losses are to No. 1 Toms River North and No. 4 Red Bank Catholic. Both of those teams flexed their hitting muscles against Toms River South, but the Indians have been keeping opponents off the board in the other games, particularly right-handers Ray Liguori and Anthony Carfora.
8. Ocean (8-1, 2-1) Last Week: 7
Although Ocean dropped its first game of the season this past week to Matawan, the Spartans continued to trot out lights-out pitching and even showed some power, specifically Anthony Bartolomei when he hit two homers – including a walk-off – in a win over Freehold on Saturday. Ocean will be challenged by Red Bank Catholic and Colts Neck on back-to-back days Thursday and Friday.
9. Barnegat (4-3, 4-1) Last Week: 10
The Bengals lost two high-profile non-division games to Gloucester Catholic and St. John Vianney in the span of a week, but they have otherwise been solid since an opening-day loss to Pinelands, with senior right-hander Seamus Brazill throwing two strong outings since losing that opener. The loss to Pinelands has been part of a crazy B South season so far, but the Bengals have managed to stay on top.
10. Donovan Catholic (6-2, 3-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Marlboro and Ocean stormed out of the gate as the two best pitching staffs, but it might be time to include Donovan Catholic in that conversation. The Griffins have allowed one earned run over their last six games and have not allowed in four games since returning from a trip to Florida for spring break. Despite a crushing extra-inning, walk-off loss against Barnegat, the Griffins still sit in second place in Class B South, tied with Barnegat in the loss column.
Brick (5-3, 4-2) Last Week: 8 – Now 1-3 in their last four, the Green Dragons took back-to-back lopsided loss to Toms River North and Jackson Memorial and fell to Manalapan on Saturday.
Pinelands (3-4, 2-3) Last Week: 9 – After starting 3-0, the Wildcats have dropped four straight, which is similar to the way last season went for them.
On the Bubble (A North edition)
Howell (5-3, 4-3) Last Week: Not ranked – The Rebels have been outscored by their opponents, but wins over Middletown South, Manalapan, Freehold and Freehold Township make them worth strongly considering.
Middletown South (5-5, 3-4) – The Eagles started 0-4 but have really picked things up over their last six, which includes a come-from behind, walk-off win over Manasquan in the opening round of the Monmouth County Tournament.
Manalapan (7-4, 2-4) – Despite some close losses, the Braves have stayed afloat and appear to be gaining a head of steam with a recent three-game winning streak.
Freehold Township (5-4, 2-4) – The Patriots have three solid non-division wins over South Plainfield, Jackson Memorial and Central, which speaks to how tough Class A North is.
Freehold (5-6, 2-4) – That 10-0 win over CBA is on the résumé, so the Colonials are going to be worth considering for a top 10 spot. A little more consistency would get them in.