Baseball – Shore Sports Network Top 10, April 22
For the second straight Saturday, two of the top three teams in the Shore Conference met for an inter-divisional showdown and for the second straight week, the loser does not give any ground in the rankings. That speaks to how much work the top three teams in the top 10 have done to solidify their spots and it appears, for the time being, that these three teams won’t be moving off their spots for at least another two weeks.
As for the rest of the top 10, there was some shifting among the holdovers from a week ago, as well as some musical chairs between some familiar teams for the final two spots.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (9-1, 6-1) Last Week: 1
The Colts kept plugging along with wins over Howell, Freehold Township, Freehold Boro and Pope John this week with the bats beginning to catch fire. Nick Hohenstein popped three homers in the three games, including two against Howell and one of the team’s three against Freehold Boro on Friday. The Colts smashed four more homers Sunday against Pope John in a 9-3 win. CBA has a chance to gain some serious separation in the A North race when it travels to second-place Manalapan on Tuesday.
2. Wall (10-1, 8-0) Last Week: 2
Speaking of separation for a division title, Wall has yet to drop a divisional matchup and has a chance to take a serious step closer to a B North crown when the Crimson Knights play at Middletown South on Tuesday. Wall was 4-0 this week overall and while the three division wins are big, the Saturday win over Jackson Liberty was the statement win of the week for a team that still has a case to be No. 1.
3. Jackson Liberty (8-1, 7-0) Last Week: 3
Despite losing for the first time this season Saturday against Wall, the Lions don’t fall in the rankings. Class B South has been a mixed bag this year, but the division got a boost from Point Boro beating Freehold Boro on Saturday. Jackson Liberty has done its part too by beating Jackson Memorial handily and going toe-to-toe with Wall in a 4-3 loss. Now, Jackson Liberty sets its sights on the No. 1 seed in the Ocean County Tournament, which the Lions should nab barring any especially rough weeks.
4. Jackson Memorial (9-2, 6-1) Last Week: 7
The Jaguars surge back into the top five after beating Toms River East and Millville in consecutive games to close out the week and reach the 10-win mark. Nick Sefick continued to shine on the mound by taking a no-hitter to the sixth inning Saturday against Millville and Carmine Petosa has come into his own at the plate. With wins over Toms River North and East already sewn up, the Jaguars have the inside track to win the A South title.
5. Marlboro (5-4, 3-4) Last Week: 4
Although the Mustangs lost to Colts Neck handily this week, they remain in the top five on the strength of two wins over teams comfortably in the top 10, including one of the clear-cut No. 1 team. It is a case of whether one prefers consistency or the team with the better wins and in Marlboro’s case – particularly with a head-to-head win over Manalapan – the strong wins carry the day.
6. Manalapan (10-3, 5-3) Last Week: 5
Manalapan’s head-to-head loss to Marlboro keeps the Braves out and losing a close game to Howell solidified that decision. On the flipside, Manalapan also has a convincing win over Toms River North, which is among the many resume notes keeping the Braves among the teams in the conversation for the top five. Manalapan gets another crack at CBA on Tuesday and can make a serious move with a home win over the Shore’s No. 1 team.
7. Toms River North (6-4, 5-2) Last Week: 8
The Mariners bounced back nicely from a loss to Manalapan last Saturday by handing Toms River East its first loss and also beating Brick to put a wrap on a 2-0 week. With Toms River East losing twice this week, Class A South is still wide open, with Jackson Memorial leading Toms River North, East and Central by one game in the loss column. The Mariners hope to start making their move this week with games against Central, Toms River South and Southern.
8. Freehold Township (5-4, 4-3) Last Week: Not ranked
Freehold Township’s losses are all to teams currently ranked in the top six of the poll – No. 1 CBA, No. 4 Jackson Memorial, No. 5 Marlboro and No. 6 Manalapan. The Patriots also have a win over Marlboro, plus a win over a Howell club coming off a strong showing to end this week. Freehold Boro, Colts Neck and Neptune are on the schedule this week before the focus shifts to the Monmouth County Tournament on Saturday, when the Patriots will host Raritan.
9. Red Bank Catholic (7-3, 6-2) Last Week: 9
Red Bank Catholic’s five-game winning streak came to an end Saturday against powerhouse Delbarton, which threw two high Division I arms at the Caseys and shut them out, 7-0. RBC’s best win so far is over Middletown South, but its six other wins are against teams that are below a .500 winning percentage, which keeps them below the likes of Toms River North, Manalapan and Marlboro for the moment.
10. Monmouth (6-4, 4-3) Last Week: Not ranked
Last week, Middletown South jumped Monmouth to break into the top 10 and this week, Monmouth hops over Middletown South, even though the two teams have yet to play one another. Both teams have lost to sub-.500 teams, but Monmouth separates itself with its win over Red Bank Catholic. The Falcons will finally host Middletown South on Monday.
Toms River East (5-3, 5-2) Last Week: 6 – After starting 5-0, the Raiders ran into their first string of adversity this week, during which they went 0-3 with losses to Toms River North, Jackson Memorial and Lacey.
Middletown South (6-3, 4-3) Last Week: 10 – Middletown South is another team without a win over a team with a winning record and the Eagles also lost to 2-8 Middletown North on Friday. The Eagles get another shot at Wall on Tuesday with heavy top 10 and B North implications involved.
On the Bubble
Howell (6-4, 4-4) – The Rebels closed out the week by scoring 25 runs against Neptune and rallying to beat No. 6 Manalapan, making a compelling case to win a spot this week.
Central (6-2, 4-2) – The Golden Eagles have hung around the top 10 picture all year and a win over Lacey this week keeps them in the discussion as they prepare for round two against both Toms River North and Jackson Memorial this week.