Monroe gets the top spot it deserved, intriguing rematches abound, and EB Tech gets snubbed: A GMC Tournament Preview

Who doesn’t love a tournament seeding meeting?

Let me rephrase that: Who doesn’t love a tournament seeding meeting when they don’t have a horse in the race?

I thought South Plainfield could have made a case for the top seed in the GMC Championship Tournament that starts tomorrow morning with eight games at various locations throughout the day.

Of the first four teams “on the board” – the four division champs, with Monroe winning the committee’s tiebreaker over St. Joe’s – the Tigers were the only team that had a “quality win.” A quality win is defined as a win against any of the other teams “on the board,” and South Plainfield could claim a 1-0 win over Middlesex, a perennial contender in the GMC and especially the state tournament when their opponents are schools of a more similar size.

Both teams were nominated, but after a discussion, Monroe was a unanimous top seed. And you can’t say they deserved it. But to be honest, they and the other Falcons – St. Joe’s – might be 1a and 1b in the GMC this year.

The teams split in the regular season, with St. Joe’s winning a 2-0 road game last Saturday, but Monroe returned the favor on Metuchen Monday with a 12-9 win.

Reliever C.J. Wisniewski struck out six batters in the final three innings of Monday’s win at St. Joe’s.

Look, runs-wise it was fairly even: Monroe outscored STJ 12-11 in the series. Sure, Monroe won the more “recent” matchup, but it was only a few days later. The Metuchen Falcons were error prone, committing five errors in the game – though one observer behind the plate who was visiting from North Jersey seemed to count eight in one inning. (I should also add the condition of the field didn’t help the home team any, but hey, both teams had to play on it.)

Both have arms, both can hit the ball, and both could have played a neater game than they did Monday. But Monroe got what it deserved in the Number One seed.

East Brunswick Tech got the shaft

I thought the committee did a horrible job putting East Brunswick Tech as the third seed in the GMC Invitational.

For the uninitiated, with a wide range of quality teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference, it holds a secondary tournament (think NIT) to allow the teams that would normally be in the high-teens to 30-seed range to win a championship, playing more competitive games than if, for example, a Highland Park (winless in the Blue Division this year) were to face Monroe in the opening round.

Scott Pede got the win in relief of Joye Moye in EB Tech’s 12-5 win over Timothy Christian on May 12, 2021 in East Brunswick.

You can say what you want about the Gold Division (I thoroughly enjoyed the EB Tech-Timothy Christian game we broadcast a couple of weeks ago) but any team that goes undefeated in its division as East Brunswick Tech did (12-0) deserves some recognition.

You can only win the games you’re given. EB Tech isn’t in the Red Division. But they got put behind 2-13 Piscataway and 6-8 Sayreville.

The Bombers I could take.

Maybe the committee decided to look at it overall, counting Sayreville as the 17th seed, Piscataway the 18th and EB Tech 19th. But that’s not a good way to look at it. The 17 seed is the No. 1 seed in the “other” tournament. Reward the best of the rest with the best spot.

I don’t care if you want to try and sell me that the Chiefs could beat East Brunswick Tech. I haven’t seen Piscataway. I’m not here to debate that. That’s not what seeding is about.

But to sit here and tell me that Piscataway deserves a bye as the second seed in the Invitational over a 13-1 East Brunswick Tech team whose only loss was to Middlesex – the fourth overall seed in the main dance – you’ve got to be joking.

A team that’s unbeaten in its division deserves at least one of the top two spots in the invitational. Do you know what it takes to go undefeated in any sport, against any schedule, at any level? I know: talent, focus, and hard work.

One bad pitch could have made EB Tech 11-1 in the division.

But it didn’t.

I’m an independent journalist, I don’t root for teams. I do like good stories. So…

I hope East Brunswick Tech runs away with the whole damned thing.

Rant over.

Rematch, rematch, everywhere a rematch

Of the eight opening round games in the GMC Championship Tournament, half are rematches from earlier in the season.

Two of them were played just this week.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio Wednesday, Spotswood beat East Brunswick at home 6-5 in extra innings on a walkoff two-RBI double by Tyler Lewandowski, who, ironically, allowed the Bears to break a 4-4 tie in the top of the inning when his wild pitch brought in the man on third.

RECAP & REACTION: “Walk ’em off Spotswood!” Lewandowski’s double off the wall lets Chargers keep Commander’s Cup Trophy another year

In a quirk of how the seeding works, East Brunswick is the 7th seed, while Spotswood is 10th, so now they will play at the North end of Summerhill Road. Yes, the Bears are in the Red Division, and even beat the top two seeds in the tourney – Monroe and St. Joe’s – but they are 9-9, 8-6 in their division. The Chargers are 15-5, 11-3 in their division.

Spotswood’s Tyler Lewandowski deals Wednesday against East Brunswick.

East Brunswick’s division losses included one each to Monroe, St. Joe’s, South Brunswick, and Old Bridge, and twice to JP Stevens, the only team below them in the Red. Spotswood dropped a pair to Blue Division Champ Middlesex, and one to Metuchen.

The other teams what will square off again within days of each other are Metuchen and North Brunswick in the 8/9 game. This one will stay in Metuchen, though, as the Bulldogs are the higher seed.

Metuchen won a 4-1 ballgame Wednesday afternoon, as the Bulldogs scored three late runs – two in the fourth and one in the sixth – to come out with the win.

But Korbid Thompson, who covers North Brunswick sports for the King James Radio Network (follow him here on Twitter) says Metuchen could have its hands full with Zach Konstantinovsky set to take the mound.

“Metuchen had better be ready to swing the bats,” says Thompson, “because Konstantinovsky has not walked a batter in his last 19 innings pitched.”

Korbid notes the Bulldogs have won five straight, and both their crossover games this year. One was over North Brunswick, the other was EB Tech’s only non-divisional GMC loss this year.

“I’m expecting Matt Rowe to get the start for the Bulldogs. If this game comes down to extras, North Brunswick is 3-0 in games after seven innings this year.”`

JP Stevens and Edison will play on Boulevard of the Eagles Saturday. Though not in the same division, they did play a crossover back on May 8th, which Edison won 4-2 behind a strong 6 2/3 innings by Sal DellaFave, who allowed two hits and two unearned runs, to go along with nine strikeouts.

And St. Joe’s and Old Bridge will play a third game this year, with the Falcons looking to sweep the Knights. They beat Old Bridge on the road 4-1 on May 3rd, and again the next day in Metuchen 6-3.

RECAP & REACTION: Goldan no-hits Old Bridge through five en route to St. Joe’s win

The opening game was a stellar outing for Andrew Goldan from tendinitis issues, and he was pulled from the game after five innings on a strict pitch count, despite no-hitting the Knights to that point.

GMC Championship Tournament Schedule

FIRST ROUND
(9) North Brunswick at (8) Metuchen, 10:30 am
(10) Spotswood at (7) East Brunswick, 11 am
(12) Woodbridge at (5) South Brunswick, 11 am
(13) Colonia at (4) Middlesex, 11 am
(14) Perth Amboy at (3) South Plainfield, 11 am
(15) Old Bridge at (2) St. Joseph, 11 am
(11) JP Stevens at (6) Edison, 12 noon
(16) JFK at (1) Monroe, noon

QUARTERFINALS
Tuesday, May 25 at North Brunswick Community Park
The games involving the two highest remaining seeds will be played at 7 pm.
The other games will be held at 4 pm.

SEMIFINALS
Saturday, May 29 at East Brunswick Tech
Noon and 2:30 pm

FINALS
Sunday, June 6 at East Brunswick Tech
Noon

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