With no question who’ll get top seed in GMC Tournament; it’s where the rest will fall, and who will avoid St. Joe’s

St. Joe’s of Metuchen players listen to head coach Mike Murray talk after a 3-0 win over Monroe on April 20, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

In the 2020 GMC Tournament, it was a toss-up perhaps who would earn the top seed between Monroe and St. Joseph-Metuchen. The teams had split their two regular season matchups, late in the season, with Joe’s winning 2-0 at Monroe, and Monroe taking a 12-9 decision on Metuchen two days later. That gave the Falcons in purple the No. 1 seed.

This year, there is no doubt, and it doesn’t even need a spoiler alert: the Falcons who wear green will be No. 1 when the seeds are determined next Friday. They are ranked in the top ten statewide, had a big top ten win over Steinert this week, and have been No. 1 all season long in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten. Not that any of that means a hill of beans to the committee.

What does matter is that they will be the Red Division champions, regardless of what happens in the next nine days in a home-and-home with Old Bridge, and a short-drive road game at JP Stevens the day before the seeding meeting. At 12-0 in the division, with three to play, second-place Monroe already has four division losses. It’s St. Joe’s, no doubt.

The question that remains is: Where will everyone else finish behind them?

Another good question: Who will avoid St. Joe’s until the finals?

Follow @cjsportsradio on Twitter as Mike Pavlichko will provide live updates from the GMC Tournament seeding meeting on May 13th.

The 2- and 3-seeds will be highly coveted, maybe moreso than usual. The Falcons have a lot of pitching and can hit, a deadly one-two combination. The 4- and 5-, the 12- and 13-, and the 16-seeds also will be in Joe’s end of the bracket. Unlike the basketball tournament, the division winners are not necessarily guaranteed a top eight seed, because there is also the GMC Invitational. Last year, for example, the Gold Division winner – East Brunswick Tech – was in the Invitational.

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.

It’ll be interesting to watch where the White Division falls. Woodbridge and Middlesex lead the White at 10-2 in the division. The Blue Jays have losses to North Brunswick and Colonia, slightly better losses than the Barrons, who were swept by Metuchen. Middlesex has two left with Sayreville, while Woodbridge has a pair with Kennedy. Then the Jays and Barrons then face each other right before the seeding meeting: Wednesday night in Woodbridge (7 pm) and Thursday afternoon in Middlesex (4 pm).

Middlesex sophomore Alfonso Esposito pitches against North Brunswick at Mountainview Park on April 15, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The Blue Jays have made an impressive leap up from the Blue Division to the White this year. Spotswood, too, at 9-7 overall, 7-5 in the division.

The next intriguing question will be how high the Blue Division can place?

The Red Division is clearly tough top to bottom. After St. Joe’s, you’ve got Monroe at 11-6, Old Bridge at 11-7, and South Plainfield, which moved up from the White and is 9-8, going 7-5 in divisional play. That’s been impressive, too. There’s four of the 16.

Then you look at the White, which is also strong. Obviously Woodbridge and Middlesex will make the main bracket. North Brunswick’s in at 10-7, and they’ve been red hot lately, winning six of their last seven and five straight until a loss to Colonia yesterday. Spotswood and Colonia, both 9-7, should also be in. The Chargers are 7-5 in the division, the Patriots 7-7. That’s five more teams, and nine of the 16.

Seven teams left. Where do they come from? Metuchen has gone 6-6 moving up from the Blue to the White. That’s a good debut for the Bulldogs, who have two quality wins against Woodbridge.

How deep will the committee go there, and in the Red? East Brunswick and South Brunswick are both 7-8, with the Bears 6-7 in the Red, and the Vikings 6-6. But we saw them get stellar pitching Tuesday in a doubleheader with Edison from Nolan Watlington and Joey Tuttoilmondo, who combined to allow just one run on three hits in 14 innings of work, as Tuttoilomondo fanned 13 in Game 2, and continues to near the school’s career strikeout record. And they got clutch hitting in both games – though hits were hard to come by – against Edison’s two best pitchers, Jaxon Appelman and Sal Della Fave.

South Brunswick’s Nolan Watlington threw a complete game and got the win in the first of a doubleheader against Edison on May 3, 2022 (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

That’s 12 teams who should be shoo-ins.

Then in the Blue, you have likely co-champions South River and St. Thomas Aquinas. They’ll share the title as long as the Trojans beat Somerset Tech today; Aquinas already won the first game of the set 16-0 this week.

That’ll give you 14 locks for the main tournament, with two to pick from. And the question is, where do they come from and where do they end up? The remaining teams in the Red are Edison (5-9), JP Stevens (4-14), and Perth Amboy (4-11). I could see the Eagles getting in, being from the Red, but the others will be a close call.

In the White, the next teams down are JFK (5-12), Piscataway (3-13) and Sayreville (3-11), the latter two of which have lost ten games apiece in the division.

Will it be another team from the Red? Could it be East Brunswick Tech from the Blue at 7-6? Could South Amboy make the jump from the Gold at just 8-2? Do they even want to, if they feel like they have a good shot at the Invitational? If they get in the main tournament, it would likely be as a 16-seed. Do they want a crack at the Falcons, but more likely a one-and-done trip?

There’s still a lot of baseball to be played before the seeding committee meets next Friday, and it will be fun to see play out.

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