Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Baseball: New Top 10

Baseball: New Top 10

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The No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the Top 10 remained the same as Washington Township went 4-0 and Gloucester Catholic went 6-0 last week.

Right now, I'm hoping these two play in the Diamond Classic. But so much can happen between now and then that they might not be the No. 1 and No. 2 teams at that point.

Audubon stayed at No. 3 despite a loss to Haddon Township. I think the Green Wave will prove to be one of the best teams in SJ through the course of this season.

Millville jumped up to No. 4 after a 2-0 week while Buena dropped a spot with a wild week that includes losses to St. Augustine and St. Joe but an impressive showing at the Emeritus Tournament at Eastern on Saturday.

Cherokee makes an appearance after a strong 4-0 week that included victories over four solid teams. The Chiefs are likely to stick around, especially if their pitchers tighten up their control.

Hammonton also jumped into the rankings. The Blue Devils are 7-1, they beat then-No. 8 SAP by 5-2 and won their own tournament. Their only loss was April 2 by a 4-0 score to Millville.

Here's the new Top 10, with the previous ranking in parentheses
1. Washington Twp. (1) 11-0
The Mintuemen have 32 extra-base hits led by junior catcher Ryan Long's eight (four triples, four doubles). Junior first baseman Shaine Hughes (5 doubles, HR) also has been driving the ball for WT. But the key to this team has been its pitching, especially junior Billy Grubb (3-0) and sophomore Mark Scarpa (3-0). Whoever takes the hill Tuesday at Pau VI will get a challenge from the heavy-hitting Eagles, especially at that park with its short right and center field.

2. Gloucester Catholic (2) 13-2
The Rams went 6-0 last week as Pat Kane, Brett Tenuto and John Brue each rapped two home runs. GC is off this week as the seniors will take their class trip. The timing is good as senior second baseman Joe Brooks is likely out 3-6 weeks with a left thumb injury and junior P Mike Shawaryn is likely out 2 weeks to rest his back. Brooks hurt his thumb sliding into second base Wednesday against Highland. GC coach Dennis Barth hopes to have Brooks and Shawaryn back for the Diamond Classic, which starts May 12 and culminates the weekend of May 19-20. Brooks is likely to miss that highly anticipated May 6 game against Don Bosco Prep but Shawaryn could be back for that game if his rest and rehab alleviates some of the stifness and soreness that he has experienced after pitching.

3. Audubon (3) 9-2
The Green Wave are tied with Holy Cross with a South Jersey-best 11 home runs led by senior third baseman Keith Michalski's four. They also have a SJ-best 40 extra-base hits. I thought about dropping this team a spot or two after the loss to Haddon Twp. but decided against it. That waa a rivalry game and HT is playing pretty well. These guys are driving the ball up and down the lineup and Andrew Schorr and Kevin Kraemer are a top 1-2 pitching punch.

 4. Millville (6) 8-2
The Thunderbolts have won seven games by shutout. When Andrew Biggs (51 Ks in 21 innings) or Aaron Cox is on the mound, Millville is as good as any team in SJ. Lots of pro scouts have been following Biggs. The Thunderbolts host a big 12-team showcase this weekend that's a Coaches vs. Cancer event.

5. Buena (4) 7-2
The Chiefs won the Emeritus Tournament Saturday at Eastern in impressive fashion, outscoring two opponents by 18-4. Tough loss to SAP on Tuesday as senior Justin Geri deserved a better fate. And then a tougher loss to St. Joe. But the Chiefs showed something by going into Eastern and winning two games, beating the host team in the final by 8-4. Buena coach George West said senior SS Anthony Lopez and senior C Manny Colon "are the reason we can compete with some of the better teams around."

6. Cherokee (NR) 6-2
Sophomore pitcher Matt Curry is 2-0 with victories over Olympic American rivals Eastern and Lenape. The Chiefs had a great week, going 4-0 with wins over Eastern, CHE, Moorestown and Lenape. Cherokee hasn't hit its stride yet -- the pitchers' command has been a little shaky and the lineup hasn't been consistent. But this team is capable of playing at a high, high level for a long time if they finding their footing.

7. Hammonton (NR) 7-1
Senior catcher A.J. Scibilia was 5-for-6 in two victories and earned MVP honors at the Blue Devil Classic on Saturday. He's batting .560. Coach Gary Sarno raves about the nice mix of determined seniors and polished sophomores on this team. Senior CF Bobby Barbieri (.480, great defense according to Sarno) has been a big addition after sitting out his soph and jr. years. Soph LHP Justin Smith is 3-0 and got the win in a big 5-2 victory over St. Auggie last week. This is a team to watch in SJ 3, especially since Tim Gallagher, heavy-hitting transfer from Holy Cross, will become eligible in early May.

8. Sacred Heart (9) 8-1
The Lions have allowed just 21 runs. That's pitching and defense. That goes a long way in this here sport.

9. Holy Cross (10) 10-1
The Lancers are averaging nine runs per game and are second in South Jersey with 34 extra-base hits. Senior 3B John Adryan has been mashing to ball but it's up and down the lineup. It's pretty remarkable how well this team has hit without Gallagher, a Carpenter Cup guy who probably was the team's second-best returning hitter after Adryan. But guys like Rob Hummel (4 HRs) and Chris Burns (2 HRs) and Mike Wisely (4 doubles) have really picked up their games.

 10. Eastern (7) 8-5
New-bat stat: The Vikings have seven times as many triples (7) as home runs (1). Senior Mike Marchitto rapped three doubles in a loss to Buena on Saturday. This is another team, like Cherokee, that has yet to find its stride. But it's the same deal: These guys are more than capable of putting together a 10-2 stretch against a great schedule of opponents. Last season, the Vikings played their best ball in May.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):

Cherry Hill West (7-3): Tough week included losses to Triton and Timber Creek. Big challenge Monday at Shawnee.

Paul VI (6-3): The Eagles get a shot at No. 1 WT on Tuesday. Can their pitching contain WT lineup?

Shawnee (6-2): Ace RHP Kevin Boswick likely will face CHW ace LHP Brenden Del Monte in a game with major Olympic Patriot implications on Monday.

Sterling (8-0): Balanced Silver Knights are two more good weeks away from a berth in the Diamond Classic.

-- Phil Anastasia

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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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