Baseball: New Top 10

More than any other sport, baseball requires a sizable body of work to get a good read on a team.

One baseball game doesn't mean as much as one football game, or even one basketball or soccer game. The sport is special that way.

So I think it's important not to overreact to the results of the first week of the season. The Top 10 eventually will take shape based on a decent number of games -- one win or one loss or even a hot or cold week doesn't always mean too much.

That said, I probably ignored my own advice by dropping Cherokee, which was No. 5 in the preseason Top 10, out of the rankings this week. The Chiefs played only one game but they really looked ragged in a 8-6 loss to Williamstown on Saturday.

I fully expect that Cherokee will be back in the Top 10 before long -- they might have one of the three to five best teams in South Jersey. But I had to drop somebody out to make room for Washington Township, which went 4-0 with four one-run wins and deserves a place in the rankings for that.

Williamstown (4-0), Camden Catholic (3-0) and Holy Cross (4-0) supporters no doubt feel the same way. They also are Under Consideration this week, along with Cherokee.

One more big week and they'll be in there.

Here's the first live Top 10 of the season, with preseason ranking in parentheses:

1. Gloucester Catholic (1) 3-0
The Rams, who have outscored opponents, 41-1, leave Tuesday for the Bishop Gorman Easter Classic in Las Vegas. This team hasn't been challenged yet but will play four games against quality competition in Las Vegas. It will be interesting if the Rams meet Bishop Gorman in the tourney since both are in the top 10 of MaxPreps' Xcellent 25 national rankings.

2. Millville (3) 4-0
The Thunderbolts have not allowed a run while scoring 36 as Delaware State recruit Andrew Biggs has picked up two pitching victories and rapped four extra-base hits. The defending SJ Group 4 champions are playing a high level. They threw Biggs on Saturday against Haddonfield and play red-hot Williamstown on Monday and No. 4 St. Augustone on Tuesday, so their pitching depth will be tested.

3. Audubon (4) 3-0
The Green Wave must like the new BBCOR bats as they have scored 40 runs with 13 extra-base hits, including three homers. Catcher Boomer Wickersham has three doubles. The Green Wave also are getting good work from junior second baseman Justin Jannetti.

4. St. Augustine (6) 2-0
The Hermits visit No. 2 Millville Tuesday in an early-season showdown. The Hermits have outscored opponents 33-2 so it's safe to say they haven't been tested. It will be interesting to see if senior Kevin Baxter or 6-7 junior Chris Oakley, who has committed to North Carolina, gets the start against Millville.

5. Eastern (2) 2-2
The Vikings dropped a 9-8 decision to Crescenta Valley Saturday night in the opening round of the Babe Herman Tournament in Glendale, Cal. Both of Eastern's losses have been by one run. These guys play a monster schedule so their record is not likely to reflect the strength of this team all season long. These guys should be serious SJ 4 contenders.

6. Buena (9) 3-0
Seniors Manny Colon and Anthony Lopez each have two home runs for the Chiefs. A strong start for a team that finished strong last season (remember the Diamond Classic title?).

7. Moorestown (7) 2-1
The Quakers have been playing small-ball as they have zero homers and just four extra-base hits. I thought this team might rely more on offense than pitching and defense this season but that hasn't been the case through the first week. The bats will catch up. If the Quakers keep pitching well and playing solid defense, they will be the team to beat in SJ 3.

8. Washington Twp. (NR) 4-0
The Minutemen leap into the rankings on the strength of four one-run victories, including three of the walk-off variety. There's something to be said for the confidence with which these guys play the game. They always think they're going to find a way to win.

9. Paul VI (8) 3-1
Jacksonville (Ala.) State recruit Paschal Petrongolo leads South Jersey with three home runs. A tough loss to rival Camden Catholic but I'm keeping the Eagles ahead of the Irish, at least for now. This PVI team can really hit. Devin Ruiz has four doubles and Ned Kerr and Brian Almand each have three extra-base hits.

10. Cherry Hill West (10) 3-1
Seven players have extra-base hits for the balanced Lions. They had one of those games -- one of those innings, actually -- in a tough loss to Eastern but showed some resolved in rallying from a 5-2 deficit to beat nemesis Shawnee in an Olympic Patriot showdown.

Under Consideration (listed alphabetically):

Camden Catholic (3-0): The Irish are getting a big lift from sophomore SS Joey Craig, who has a pair of doubles.

Cherokee (0-1): I was watching Saturday's game and joked to another writer, "When this team is playing in the Group 4 state finals, we're going to look back at this game and laugh."

Holy Cross (4-0): Ohio U-bound John Adryan is setting the pace for the Lancers with five extra0base hits.

Williamstown (4-0): Junior pitcher Kyle Grim has two wins and senior catcher Brett Virnelson is swinging a hot bat for the Braves.

* Phil Anastasia

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