NJSIAA baseball tournament kicks off Tuesday with non-public action; publics start Wednesday

The NJSIAA state baseball tournament begins play on Tuesday, with non-public schools in action, including six from the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area, while another two have first-round byes to Friday’s sectional quarterfinals.

On Wednesday, all 31 public schools begin play with first round sectional action.

Below is the schedule of games for all CJSR-area teams, listed by day, with each team’s first game listed.

Scroll down for additional “Notes & Nuggets” on the state tournament.

TUESDAY

Non-Public South A:
(9) St. Thomas Aquinas at (8) Notre Dame, 4pm
(12) Camden Catholic at (5) Pingry, 4:30 pm

Non-Public North B:
(9) Morris Catholic at (8) Timothy Christian, 4 pm
(12) Newark Academy at (5) Immaculata, 4 pm (at Diamond Nation, Flemington)
(13) Wardlaw-Hartridge at (4) Morristown-Beard, 4 pm
(11) Mater Dei at (6) Gill St. Bernard’s, 4 pm

WEDNESDAY

Central Jersey Group 4:
(9) East Brunswick at (8) Freehold Twp., 4 pm
(12) South Brunswick at (5) North Brunswick, 4 pm (at Community Park)
(13) Montgomery at (4) Northern Burlington, 3:30 pm
(11) Rancocas Valley at (6) Old Bridge, 4 pm
(10) Marlboro at (7) Monroe, 3 pm

Central Jersey Group 3:
(11) Red Bank Catholic at (6) Somerville, 4 pm (at Torpey Athletic Complex, Bridgewater)
(15) JFK at (2) Brick Memorial, 3 pm

Central Jersey Group 2:
(16) Carteret at (1) Rumson-Fair Haven, 4:30 pm
(12) Nottingham at (5) South River, 3:15 pm (at Grekoski Park)
(11) Manasquan at (6) Spotswood, 4 pm
(10) Bernards at (7) Metuchen, 4 pm
(15) East Brunswick Tech at (2) Wall, 4 pm

Central Jersey Group 1:
(16) Highland Park at (1) Middlesex, 4 pm
(9) Perth Amboy Tech at (8) Riverside, 4 pm
(12) Manville at (5) Shore, 2 pm
(13) Palmyra at (4) South Amboy, 4 pm (at Raritan Bay Waterfront Park)
(10) Burlington City at (7) Bound Brook, 4 pm (at Billain-Legion Park)

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 4:
(9) Elizabeth at (8) Franklin, 1 pm
(13) Piscataway at (4) Watchung Hills, 3:45 pm
(14) Newark East Side at (3) Woodbridge, 4:30 pm
(10) JP Stevens at (7) Bridgewater-Raritan, 2:15 pm
(15) Plainfield at (2) Ridge, 4 pm

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 3:
(12) South Plainfield at (5) Randolph, 4 pm
(10 Cliffside Park at (7) Colonia, 4 pm
(15) North Plainfield at (2) Ferris, 4 pm

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 1:
(13) Dunellen at (4) Brearley, 4 pm

FRIDAY

Non-Public South A:
(2) St. Joseph-Metuchen vs. (7) Donovan Catholic or (10) Union Catholic, 4 pm

Non-Public North B:
(1) Rutgers Prep vs. (8) Timothy Christian or (9) Morris Catholic, TBA

NOTES AND NUGGETS:

Play Local: There are five “All-CJSR” matchups in the opening round, and perhaps the most intriguing of them is 5-seed North Brunswick (20-9) and 12-seed South Brunswick (12-12) in Central Jersey Group 4. The Raiders are coming off their first-ever GMC Tournament title, won on Sunday with a 4-2 victory of defending champion St. Joseph of Metuchen, denying the league its first repeat champion since the Falcons won it back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. But we digress. This one will be interesting with Kyle Anderson expected to get the start for North Brunswick, since Zack Konstantinovsky blew out his eligibility based on his pitch count (105) against the Falcons. South Brunswick will likely start ace Joey Tuttoilmondo, who owns the school’s single-season and career strikeout records – which keep growing. That single-season mark is up to 95 now, with only 18 walks. Interestingly, the two played a regular season game last week that the Raiders won 7-3, though neither of the expected starters for this state game pitched in that one. North and South Brunswick have split their last four meetings. Should be a fun one at Community Park, Wednesday at 4 pm.

The other intriguing matchup is in North 2, Group 4, between 10-seed JP Stevens (9-16) and 7-seed Bridgewater-Raritan (14-11), mainly because of what it could set up. That’s a 2:15 start, by the way, since Bridgewater-Raritan is hosting the statewide Group 1 and 2 state lacrosse finals. Ironically, their own boys play Southern Regional for the statewide Group 4 title down at Shore Regional at at 4:00. But we digress again. BR and JP These teams last met in 2012, with the Panthers winning a 9-2 game. They should win this one, too, and it would set up a likely quarterfinal round game on Saturday with second-seed Ridge, in what would be a rematch of the Somerset County Tournament semifinals, which the Red Devils won 3-1 en route to their first SCT title since 2011. Ridge (21-3) takes on 15-seed Plainfield (8-13) in the opening round Wednesday, and should win that easily.

The other All-CJSR matchups include a couple of GMC-Skyland crossovers: 13-seed Piscataway at 14th-seed Watchung Hills in North 2, Group 4, and 10-seed Bernards at 7-seed Metuchen in Central Jersey Group 2. In Central 1, top-seed Middlesex hosts 16th-seed Highland Park, as the Blue Jays begin their quest for a fifth straight Central Jersey Group 1 championship, having won in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 (with no season in 2020 due to COVID-19).

Speaking of Ridge: Despite a loss last week to North Hunterdon, the Red Devils are having a fantastic season. Their only other losses are to another group of Red Devils: Hunterdon Central. And should Ridge make it to the North 2 Group 4 finals – which it won last year – they could face Central again; they’re the top seed. Would be a great rematch with a trip to the Group 4 semis – with Ridge would host – on the line.

Rebounding Falcons: What can you say about St. Joe’s? While having Zack Konstantinovsky on the mound levels the playing field against most teams for North Brunswick, the Raiders’ GMCT final win was still a big upset. Andrew Goldan pitched well. Remember, both pitchers allowed a pair of runs in the first. He walked, then hit a better in the sixth before a sac bunt moved the runners to second and third, and Kyle Tarabokia cued one down the right field line for a double past first baseman Tyler DelVecchio, who was in on the grass. Not to take anything away from Zack K, but if DelVecchio is at normal depth, or Tarabokia doesn’t almost rip the ball along the chalk line, Joe’s may get a play at the plate. Such is baseball, a game of inches.

But with plenty of time before Friday, Goldan can rest up for the quarterfinal round against either Donovan or Union Catholic. With Donovan Zsak’s future uncertain – he’s struggled to pitch regularly coming off Tommy John surgery – head coach Mike Murray can play the calendar thanks to the bye – using for all he’s got Friday. While he couldn’t go again Tuesday in the sectional semis, he could certainly go the following Friday in a sectional final, which – if all goes to chalk – would be at St. Augustine in deep South Jersey; they’re the top-seed in the section, and No. 1 in the latest statewide rankings.

Somerville’s Strange Path: I said it in our preview of the seeding, don’t sleep on The ‘Ville. They come from a rugged division – the Skyland Delaware – where they were 9-8, and are 12-13 overall. They play 11-seed Red Bank (10-16) in the first round. Should they win, they likely get third-seed Hamilton West, which is 17-9 and lost to Hun in the Mercer County Tournament final. Another win could set them up with the second-seed Brick Memorial in the semifinals. And the Mustangs are an interesting bunch, on paper: 12-14, having lost seven straight coming into the playoffs. They won their first two games in the Ocean County Tournament, then lost in the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament, and got bounced in their next game in the OCT. They then dropped five in a row to Barnegat, Marlboro, Jackson Memorial, Manalapan and Lacey. Things that make you go “Hmmmmm.”

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