Stormy Monday forecast could change complexion of GMC Tournament

Storm clouds roll in before the Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals between Middlesex and Florence at Mountainview Park in Middlesex on June 8, 2021. After a monsoon, the game was rescheduled to the next day. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The way the schedule is set up for the GMC Tournament, the quarterfinals are the toughest round of all.

With four off days between Monday’s opening round and Saturday’s semifinals, the team with a deeper staff will be primed to do well in the round of eight at Community Park in North Brunswick.

And conceivably, a team could put its No. 1 pitcher on the hill for the opening round, semis and finals.

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But one bad day from Mother Nature early in the event could throw the whole thing off. And this year, that’s looking like a good bet.

Monday afternoon’s forecast calls for heavy rain and thunderstorms. News12 New Jersey meteorologists Sunday morning predicted the worst of the storms will likely occur between 3:30 and 9 pm, which falls right when most teams would be playing.

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According to News 12, as of Sunday morning, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, says there is the potential for winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour and even hail along with thunder and lightning. The Center rates the risk for such weather is a four on a scale of one to six.

If that holds true, it’s doubtful anyone will play.

And that could leave coaches with some difficult decisions to make regarding pitching.

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To begin with, if the first round is moved to Tuesday, any starter who plans on coming back Saturday would have to be mighty effieicent, and throw no more than 90 pitches. Anything from 91 to the full limit of 110 would require four days’ rest. Going over 90 pitches Tuesday would only allow three days’ rest, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and they couldn’t pitch Saturday.

Then, if any relievers were used Tuesday, they’d be limited to 30 pitches if they were to come back in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, the next day. Throwing 31 pitches or more requires at least one days’ rest.

A weather postponent Monday wouldn’t hurt the deeper pitching staffs as much, but could change the complexion for smaller schools. And, one would assume hitters would try to work deeper into counts to force more pitches to be thrown.

Of course, it’s a one-and-done tounament, so you can only plan so much for the future. It’s not like getting blown out in a Game Five of a best-of-seven with a 3-1 series lead and saving your bullpen for Game Six. This is win or you’re out.

But it be interesting to see if and how any coaches finagle their starting pitching plans this week, if Mother Nature takes her toll.

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