Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Baseball: New Top 10

There's no denying Washington Township the top spot in the Top 10.

Baseball: New Top 10

There's no denying Washington Township the top spot in the Top 10.

Just look at the teams the Minutemen have beaten en route to an 7-0 start. Eastern, Cherokee and Millville were preseason Top 5 teams. Bishop Eustace and Cherry Hill East are solid programs. Holy Spirit is another solid team, and the Spartans are coming off a victory in the Pop Bobb tourney in Pennsville.

WT is playing at a high level. The pitchers are pounding the strike zone, the Minutemen are fielding well and their lineup is producing from top to bottom.

When it all shakes out, Gloucester Catholic might prove to be the best team in SJ, if not the state. In fact, I suspect that's exactly what the Rams will do over the next seven weeks.

But they drop out of the No. 1 spot in this ranking to make room for WT, which has done more against consistently stronger competition through the first two weeks, GC went 3-2 in Las Vegas and made the finals of that tourney, which is impressive. But two losses, including an 8-0 loss in which they were no-hit, opened the door for WT -- for this week, anyway.

I dropped out Moorestown and Paul VI to make room for Sacred Heart and Holy Cross. SH is 6-1 and stunned Millville in extra innings while HC is 8-0 and has been pounding the baseball.

Moorestown is off to a slow start. PVI went 2-2 in Myrtle Beach and I suspect the Eagles will be back in the Top 10 before long. They can rake.

Here's the new Top 10, with previous ranking in parentheses:


1. Washington Twp. (8) 7-0
The Mintuemen played another flawless fielding game in a 12-0 victory over previous No. 2 Millville in the Grand Slam Classic finals. This team's confidence just skyrocketed after winning the first three games in walk-off fashion. Coach Bill Alvaro Jr. thinks his young team still might hit a rough patch or two with that demanding schedule. But no team has been better through the first two weeks of the season. I'm not sure this team will be No. 1 in early June. That schedule is so tough, and the Minutemen rely heavily on younger players. But they belong there now.

2. Gloucester Catholic (1) 7-2
The Rams ran into a likely future major-leaguer as Bishop Gorman's Joey Gallo used his 95 mph fastball to pitch a no-hitter in the finals of the Bishop Gorman Eastern Classic in Las Vegas. GC showed something in making the finals of that tourney. I suspect GC will return to play against SJ foes with a little chip on the shoulder. Last year, the Rams came back from Vegas and went on a tear, 10-running almost every team in their way. I'm not predicting that in the new-bat era. But I wouldn't be surprised if this team finds another gear.

3. Audubon (3) 7-1
The Green Wave went 4-1 in Myrtle Beach as East Carolina-bound Andrew Schorr rapped four extra-base hits. Senior catcher Derek Wickersham has five doubles and the Green Wave has been hitting the baseball with authority with 26 extra-base hits. Audubon hosts the Ralph Shaw tourney this weekend.

4. Buena (6) 5-0
The Chiefs have won three games by one run, beating Moorestown, Sacred Heart and Vineland. Catcher Manny Colon and shortstop Anthony Lopez lead a team that seems to have carried over the confidence from last year's Diamond Classic title. Big cross-over Cape-Atlantic game with St. Augustine on Tuesday.

5. Cherry Hill West (10) 7-1
The Lions have won six in a row, four by shutout. CHW has yet to hit a home run but they have five triples, with three by Brenden Del Monte. Since a 15-1 loss to Eastern on April 2, CHW is 6-0 and has outscored foes by 52-8. They've beaten Williamstown and CHE in the last two games by 17-0. Del Monte threw a six-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 win over rival CHE Sunday at Campbell's Field.

6. Millville (2) 6-2
Senior right-hander Andrew Biggs struck out 17 in a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to Sacred Heart. Tough end to a busy week that started great for the Thunderbolts. They beat previously undefeated Williamstown on Monday and edged St. Augustine 2-0 in a great game on Tuesday. But that loss to Sacred Heart was a blow and then, short on pitching, they fell 12-0 to Washington Twp. on Saturday. It was 9-0 after an inning and a half and the air went out of the Thunderbolts. It happens. With Biggs or Aaron Cox on the mound, this team still is one of the best five in SJ.

7. Eastern (5) 5-3
Junior Steve Priolo had a big tourney in California: Complete-game pitching victory, two doubles in another game, and a home run in another. The Vikings went 2-2 in the Babe Herman tourney in Calif and came home to score 15-1 win over Penn Tech on Sunday. Demanding schedule will have this team in the thick of the Olympic American race and ready for Diamond and SJ Group 4 tournament.

8. St. Augustine (4) 3-2
Junior catcher Barry Buchowski has four doubles for the Hermits. Losses this week to Millville and Philadelphia Catholic League power La Salle. The Hermits are young, with juniors and sophomores in key spots. This team likely will get better as the season gets longer.

9. Sacred Heart (NR) 6-1
Senior right-hander Brandon Triantos has two victories and a save for the Lions. Can't deny this team a spot in the Top 10 after that win over Millville. They struck out 17 times against Andrew Biggs but stayed in the game and found a way to win in extras. Impressive. Only loss was by 4-3 to a very good Buena team.

10. Holy Cross (NR) 8-0
Ohio University recruit John Adryan has 10 extra-base hits for the Lancers. As a team, HC has 27 extra-base hits. Nice wins over RC, Lenape and Camden Catholic.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):

Burlington Twp. (6-0): The Falcons have five HRs and have beaten RV and Moorestown.

Paul VI (5-3): The Eagles' Paschal Petrongolo leads SJ with four HRs.

Almost:

Cherokee (2-2): Still think the Chiefs could be one of the best teams in SJ.

GCIT (6-0): Cheetahs get their shot at Gloucester Catholic on Thursday.

Hammonton (5-1): Soph Alex Padovani hit for the cycle against Maple Shade.

Sterling (5-0): Silver Knights visit Overbrook (7-2) in a good Colonial Liberty game on Monday.

-- Phil Anastasia

About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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