Fearless and likely feckless predictions for this weekend's Diamond Classic.
This just in: Pitching rules. Obviously, that's always the case in baseball. But it's pitching depth that matters in the Diamond, since the condensed format forces the chanmpionship team to win three games in two days.
Plus, public school teams are looking at the first round of the state tournament on Monday or Tuesday, and have to account for that in their pitching plans.
Washington Township vs. St. Augustine. Both teams have been playing well, as evidenced by their rise to No. 3 and No. 2 in the The Inquirer Top 10. The Minutemen are tested by the Olympic American, South Jersey's best division. The Hermits haven't played as strong of a schedule, but looked awfully good in 10-running No. 5 Holy Cross in the first round. Slight edge to the non-public school because there's no need to account for the first round of the tournament on Tuesday. Pick: St. Augustine.
Cherokee vs. Eastern. Olympic American rivals could meet four times this season if they clash again in Group 4 tournamernt. Love the way Eastern has been playing, although the Vikings stumbled the other day against Bishop Eustace. Cherokee has been up and down but something tells me the young Chiefs are ready to hit high gear. Pick: Cherokee.
At Washington Township.
Holy Spirit vs. Buena. Spartans' schedule is a little suspect but they 10-runned a Haddon Heights team that had been playing very well in the first round. Buena is a year away. Pick. Holy Spirit.
Paul VI vs. Gloucester Catholic. Love the Eagles' lineup. They were ahead of Seneca 4-0 in the top of the first Thursday when lightning postponed another game. Rams' lineup is just as good if not better -- with more speed, anyway -- and the No. 1 team's big edge this weekend is its pitching depth. Pick: Gloucester Catholic.
St. Augustine vs. Cherokee. Sticking with my hunch about the Chiefs. They look like a team that's ready to rake. Pick: Cherokee.
At Washington Township
Holy Spirit vs. Gloucester Catholic. Spartans probably don't have the pitching depth to contain the Rams' lineup. Pick: GC.
Cherokee vs. Gloucester Catholic. It's all about pitching at this point. I'm still amazed last year's was Lenape 1, Millville 0. Cherokee has the Group 4 tournament starting Tuedsday. GC has a week before the Non-Public B tournament. Big edge, Rams. Pick: GC.
-- Phil Anastasia