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If you came to this space this week looking for a shakeup in the rankings, you will once again have to skip to No. 6. The top five teams in the Shore Conference, while not perfect, have been very good and very consistent, while the bottom five of the top 10 has featured teams that have run hot-and-cold.

No. 6 this week, however, is a team that appears to be establishing itself as one of those consistent winners and with the schedule ramping up and the tournaments now underway, there will be chances for impact wins on a lot of teams’ schedules.

1. Ranney (10-1, 8-0) Last Week: 1

Last week, Ranney suffered its first loss of the season and this past week, the Panthers got back to winning with a 3-0 mark. They did, however, have to work for two of them. After a lopsided win over Neptune at home, Ranney battled for a 3-0 win over Bishop Eustace and Rutgers-bound ace Jack Kirchner, then needed extra-innings to beat Neptune a second time in a high-scoring affair. The Neptune win marked the first time Ranney did not pitch any of its top four pitchers and the Scarlet Fliers nearly picked off the Panthers.

2. Red Bank Catholic (7-2, 5-1) Last Week: 2

RBC had a chance to schedule some out-of-conference competition at the end of last week and wound up splitting the two games. The Caseys got excellent pitching in both games, with Alex Stanyek and Declan Leary combining for seven innings in a 5-2 win over Gloucester Catholic and Steve Svenson allowing two hits in a complete game vs. Old Bridge. The offense, however, could only muster two runs over the weekend and the Caseys dropped a 2-1 decision to the Knights.

3. Rumson-Fair Haven (8-2, 6-2) Last Week: 3

Last week started with a 9-8 loss at Monmouth, but turned out to be a great week for Rumson regardless. The Bulldogs bounced back by sweeping Wall in a rematch of last year’s Central Jersey Group II title game, then hammered Caldwell Saturday in a matchup of two defending sectional champions in Group II.

4. Donovan Catholic (8-1, 7-0) Last Week: 4

The offense wasn’t quite as overwhelming last week as it was during the first two, but Donovan Catholic’s pitching assured the Griffins an unbeaten week. Shaun O’Keefe, Jake Marciano and Jason Basilicata have been an impressive trio and John Grano and Kade Kulpinski have been on-point in covering the back-end of games.

5. Christian Brothers Academy (8-0-1, 5-0-1) Last Week: 5

The Colts missed a chance to move up when they tied Manalapan to end the week, but they remain a top-five team by a comfortable margin and are still right on the heels of the teams ranked ahead of them. Winning a showdown vs. Ben Schild and Middletown South was a huge win to start the week and despite failing to win a game for the first time this season on Friday, CBA is still unbeaten and still considerably ahead of the rest of the A North field.

6. Jackson Memorial (9-2, 6-1) Last Week: Not ranked

Prior to this week, Jackson Memorial’s résumé included a lopsided loss to Millville, a loss to Brick Memorial and four wins over opponents that currently sport losing records. This week, the Jaguars more than doubled that win total and picked up victories over Central, St. Joseph Metuchen and Kingsway in a four-day span. The next two weeks will be even bigger, with round two vs. Central, division series vs. Southern and Toms River East and a trip to play Gloucester Catholic all on tap in the next 11 days.

Jackson Memorial senior Charlie Meglio. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Jackson Memorial senior Charlie Meglio. (Photo: Tom Smith |

7. Southern (5-3, 5-2) Last Week: 7

Southern lost another extra-inning game in Class A South, dropping a home game to Toms River East in eight innings before losing a neutral-site game to Lenape at the Coaches-vs.-Cancer event at Mainland. The Rams will have only one division game to worry about this week but it’s a big one: a trip north to face Jackson Memorial on Tuesday.

8. Howell (5-4, 5-3) Last Week: 6

Howell’s hopes for a second straight Class A North title took a hit this week with two losses – one to Freehold Township and another at home to Middletown South. The Rebels still managed to slug their way to a 10-3 win over Middletown South in their other game this week, so there is still reason to believe Howell remains a top contender for the Class A North public title and a threat heading into May.

9. Central (5-4, 4-3) Last Week: Not ranked

The week ended with an ugly, 24-6 loss to Ocean City but before that, Central had won five of six games, with the only loss coming at Jackson Memorial in a one-run game. The Golden Eagles are getting big seasons from Dom Masino and Cristian Soto and its top two pitchers – Tyler Bell and Trevor Policastro – have been effective in each of their starts. The supporting cast has begun to come around and that trend will need to continue for Central to continue to climb.

10. Middletown South (4-6, 3-4) Last Week: 9

Middletown South’s sub-.500 record was all set to bump it from the Top 10, but the Eagles closed out the week by beating Shore-ranked Howell and state-ranked Randolph to hold on to a spot in the rankings. Ben Schild has not been able to finish the sixth inning in any of his starts, but the rest of the staff has been solid and the offense came to life at the end of the week.


Dropped Out

Marlboro (6-5, 5-3) Last Week: 8 – After a red-hot start by the offense during the first week of the season, the Mustangs have been inconsistent and following a 6-1 loss to Manasquan in the MCT Saturday, Marlboro falls out.

Shore (4-5, 2-4) Last Week: 10 – The No. 10 ranking did not suite Shore all that well: the Blue Devils went 0-4 after joining the Top 10 and dropped below .500.


Top 10 Watchlist

Manasquan (6-5, 3-5)

Freehold Township (7-4, 3-4)

Holmdel (7-2, 4-2)

Brick Memorial (5-6, 3-4)

Ocean (6-4, 3-3)

Wall (5-5, 3-5)

Toms River East (5-4, 4-3)


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