New Providence has won three straight North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 titles. But for all their success, there’s one feather they haven’t been able to put in their proverbial ball caps for quite some time.
The distinction of winning a state championship.
The Pioneers hope that will change Saturday when they take on Middlesex in the Group One final, as New Providence guns for its first statewide group title since 1998. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 pm, with live coverage by Central Jersey Sports Radio beginning at 12:10 with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino. Click here to listen.
Ironically, or just in a perfect twist of fate, their opponent in that 1998 final was Middlesex.
That was a tight game, and this one isn’t expected to be much different.
Jason Graham, the Pioneers’ ace – who is also hitting over .600 in the postseason to help his cause whenever he’s on the mound – will get the start in the title game against the Blue Jays. Middlesex has ace Raiden Yost available, as well as Stephen Young, who got the win Monday against Woodstown in the group semis, his second of the postseason in two starts.
For New Providence, head coach Chris Brodeur is happy with where the Pioneers are as a program, with good feeder programs and dedicated teams in town.
This season, though, didn’t get off to an easy start, with losses to three tough out-of-conferennce opponents.
But, he says his senior leadership quickly dismissed those games, and they got on a role in divisional play, winning nine straight games.
“We never felt streaky,” Brodeur says. He says the team doesn’t focus on the results but just plays baseball.
Click below to hear Chris Brodeur talk about the Pioneers’ 2021 season and the group final against Middlesex: