The goal every year for the dozen or so – it changes from time to time – high school baseball teams in Somerset County is to get to TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, home of the Somerset Patriots.
That’s where the SCT semifinals and finals are held, and eight teams will get the chance to punch their ticket Saturday, with four quarterfinal games on tap. The top four seeds are all playing their first games in the tournament, having received the highly-coveted double-byes.
Top-seed Ridge (12-1) is coming off a 10-4 win over Pingry Friday afternoon, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, and will face 9-seed Gill St. Bernard’s (7-6) at noon in Basking Ridge. The Knights are the only lower seed to win a second-round game, beating 8-seed Immaculata 4-2 on the road a week ago.
The Red Devils beat Gill 12-1 in the season opener for both teams on April 2, scoring nine times in the first two innings. Brendan Callanan had four RBI in the game, while Mike Olivo knocked in three.
The other three games are all at noon.
Second-seed Somerville (8-5) will host 7-seed Pingry (9-1) at 11 am at the Torpey Athletic Complex in Bridgewater. The Pioneers have won two straight since a pair of losses out of conference, and have won four straight against Skyland foes. The ‘Ville has won three straight against the Big Blue, whose last win against the Pioneers came back in 2013.
It will be interesting to see how a pretty good Pingry team – which suffered its first loss of the season Friday at Ridge – will rebound, especially playing its fourth game in as many days. They won Wednesday at Belvidere, 25-1, then edged Del Val at home 6-5 before Friday’s defeat.
Also at 11 am, 5-seed Watchung Hills (7-7) will visit 4-seed Bridgewater-Raritan (7-7), in perhaps the most evenly-matched game of the day. The Panthers had an off-day Friday after a four-game stretch from Monday to Thursday, winning the first three – including a couple of slugfests over Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Montgomery, before falling 10-6 to Hunterdon Central at home Thursday to end the stretch.
The Warriors have won two straight, 8-5 at Phillipsburg and 5-4 over Delbarton at home. Bridgewater has won four of the last five, head-to-head, going back to the beginning of the 2019 season.
Finally, 6-seed Rutgers Prep (9-2) will plat at 3rd-seed Montgomery (5-5). The Argonauts lost 9-1 to the Cougars on Day Two of the season, as Alex Benitez had a 3-for-3 day, and Adam Neufeld and Greg Blecikhart each knocked in a pair of runs, and Neufeld pitched six innings of five-hit, one-run ball.
Monty has won three of the last four meetings – which have been rare – going all the way back to 2016.
The winner of Pingry/Somerville and Rutgers Prep/Montgomery will face off in one semifinal on May 9 in Bridgewater, while the other matchup will feature the winners of the Gill St. Bernards’s/Ridge and Watchung Hills/Bridgewater-Raritan games.
The semifinals are at 4 and 7 pm at TD Bank Park, and will be broadcast live by Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas on Central Jersey Sports Radio.