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Eight days of the 2023 Shore Conference baseball season are in the books and considering how often first-week surprises are a regular occurrence in a baseball season, it was a relatively stable week for the teams that opened in the Top 10 at the start of the season. Only four of the teams that started the season in the Top 10 made it out of the first week undefeated, but after a first week that pitted several Top 10 teams against one another, that was inevitable.

The big games continue through the weekend so there is a chance for some teams to climb and other higher-ranked teams to solidify their spots.

1. Ranney (4-0, 3-0) Last Week: 1

Not only did Ranney not slip up in its first week at No. 1: the Panthers didn’t let anyone come close. Ranney beat its first three Shore opponents by a cumulative score of 41-0 and after falling behind early at Ferris, rallied for a 10-5 win. This week will test the Shore’s No. 1 team even more, with a tough matchup on the mound vs. Manasquan, plus games vs. unbeaten Ocean and a Delbarton team ranked No. 3 in the state to open the season.

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

After suffering a crushing opening-day, walk-off loss at Rumson-Fair Haven, the Caseys have bounced back brilliantly. They handled the Bulldogs, 9-2, in the rematch, than topped Wall, 7-1, giving them an 18-6 run differential facing two Top 10 teams to open the season. RBC will end its week with another high-profile opponent Saturday against Donovan Catholic.

3. Rumson-Fair Haven (2-1, 2-1) Last Week: 4

In the early going, the Bulldogs have shown they like late-inning drama, winning with three runs in the bottom of the seventh in a 3-2 win over Red Bank Catholic on opening day and then scoring four in the top of the eighth to deny Holmdel in extra innings.

4. Donovan Catholic (3-0, 3-0) Last Week: 5

After scratching and clawing their way to an opening-day, extra-inning win over Point Boro, the Griffins have heated up by scoring 27 runs over their last two games while maintaining the steady performance on the mound that has defined them during their ascent over the past four seasons. A road test at Red Bank Catholic Saturday will show how close Donovan Catholic is to the Shore’s upper tier of teams.

5. Christian Brothers Academy (3-0, 3-0) Last Week: 6

Although injuries plagued the CBA pitching staff heading into the season, that hasn’t stopped the Colts offense. CBA is averaging nine runs during the first three games and as for the pitching staff, it has a legitimate ace. Junior Chris Levonas demonstrated as much with six perfect innings against Colts Neck on opening day.

6. Marlboro (3-1, 3-0) Last Week: 9

Marlboro’s deep, experienced pitching staff figured to be the lynchpin of this year’s team, but through four games, the offense has driven the strong start. The Mustangs have put up 34 runs in four games while getting contributions from up and down the lineup, along with  continued solid performances from its returning group of pitchers.

7. Middletown South (1-3, 1-2) Last Week: 3

After routing Freehold Township on opening day, Middletown South has lost three straight – all by one run. The last of those losses came against 5-0 Allentown, with senior ace Ben Schild taking the loss in relief. Schild has walked five batters in four innings so far and is now 0-2 over the past two seasons when entering in the seventh inning.

8. Wall (2-1, 2-1) Last Week: 8

With its two bridge-year starting pitchers and experienced overall lineup, Monmouth Regional figured to be a legitimate threat to win the Class A Central public division title. Wall dealt the Falcons a serious blow in that pursuit, sweeping Monmouth to open the season and getting strong pitching performances from its senior one-two punch of Matt Johnson and Zach Szatokowski.

9. Jackson Memorial (3-1, 3-0) Last Week: 7

In its two-game sweep of Toms River North, Jackson Memorial twice bounced back from giving up leads to score late and win the game, relying on senior standout Charlie Meglio to come through in big spots. A blowout loss to Millville and some close calls reveal a Jackson Memorial team still finding its footing, even as it is off to a solid start in the won-loss column.

10. Southern (3-0, 3-0) Last Week: Not ranked

The late innings have been Southern’s time to shine, with the Rams scoring eight times in the sixth inning to beat Central, 11-3, on opening day, then five in the last two innings to pick up a 5-4 road win over the Golden Eagles. On Monday, Southern scored early and often in a 12-5 win over Toms River South that has the Rams looking like the possible favorite in Class A South.


Dropped Out

Central (1-2, 1-2) – After struggling to stop Southern in the late innings, Central’s pitching was lights-out late in picking up its first win of the season Monday at Brick


Top 10 Watchlist

Ocean (4-0, 1-0)

Toms River East (4-0, 3-0)

Toms River South (2-1, 2-1)

Howell (2-1, 2-1)

Neptune (3-0, 3-0)

Manasquan (1-2, 1-2)

Middletown North (1-2, 1-2)

Freehold Township (1-2, 1-2)


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