As is pretty obvious to anyone who can see out a window right now, tomorrow’s NJSIAA Group finals are not going to happen. Everything is on Sunday now, and you can click here to get the whole schedule. If you want to make a full day of it, you can watch all three Shore Conference baseball teams in a row in their state finals. Starting at 10 a.m., St. Rose faces Montclair Kimberley at Toms River North as the Purple Roses try to repeat as Non-Public B champs, followed by Christian Brothers Academy vs. Delbarton at 1 p.m. at Toms River South in the Non-Public A final, and then capped off by Shore vs. Pequannock in the Group II final at 4 p.m. at Toms River North.
The postponement now gives the aces for all three Shore teams another day of rest after winning games on Tuesday. Shore’s Rob Corsi, St. Rose’s Kyle Kennett and CBA’s Pat Light will all now be plenty rested for the big games on Sunday, which is the silver lining to having to wait a day.
As for handicapping these games, I would put CBA as a slight favorite over Delbarton because the Colts beat them during a fairly meaningless regular-season game, but this is really a dead heat. Light will be gunning for immortality as he bids to end his career with a record of 21-0, and 10-0 this season. Delbarton is one of the tougher lineups he will have faced this year, so he will have to earn it. Light is one of the most competitive athletes I have ever covered, so Delbarton is going to face an extremely determined ace on Sunday.
As for CBA, we’ve heard it beaten to death at this point, year after year – the Colts have not won a Non-Public A title since 1977. The players are probably sick of it, and they have Light on the mound, which is a recipe to end the drought. In his own understated way, CBA coach Marty Kenney said that he wished it wasn’t emphasized so much at the expense of all the other success CBA has had in winning division, county and Shore Conference Tournament titles, but unfortunately, that’s life at CBA. The basketball team goes through the same thing, too, as the Colts have won numerous divisional, SCT and sectional titles, but have not won a Non-Public A title since 1995 on the hardwood. The feeling is that once CBA has to face all-boys schools that have the same advantages as it does, it struggles to finish the job. The Colts just want to put all that to rest and win it all, just like any other team that wants to finish its season with a state title. I just can’t see a group of teenagers locked into this particular moment caring that much about stuff that happened way before they got to CBA.
Shore has a tall order in Pequannock, which is led by North Carolina recruit Jordan Tabakman, an ace right-hander on the mound who is also one of the team’s top hitters. Shortstop Martin Kelly is also a stud who is headed to Wake Forest and is the school’s all-time hits leader as their leadoff man. Shore is seeking its first Group II title since the days of Ira Tilton and Kyle Pierson back in 1993. If Corsi can navigate this Pequannock lineup with success, that would put a huge exclamation point on his season while also showing his upside against advanced hitters before he heads off to Duquesne to continue his career.
Plus, Tabakman vs. Shore senior slugger Todd Juliano is a great match-up of one of the Shore’s top hitters against one of the state’s top pitchers. We’ll see if Tabakman will challenge Juliano, which has been a bad idea thus far in a playoff run in which he has slugged four homers in Shore’s last four games.
St. Rose is definitely the favorite against Montclair Kimberley. If the Purple Roses can beat a very good Bishop Eustace team, they should win this game. Kennett is a bulldog on the mound and this team plays good defense, which are perfect ingredients for a second straight title. Jim Agnello is quietly one of the best young coaches in the Shore Conference and has built this team to do more than just dominate teams in its own division and in its own backyard. The Roses reached the semifinals of the MCT and SCT and now can win a second straight state title. Montclair Kimberley is led by a group of seniors, including ace Ryan DeMartino, outfielders Taylor Sutton and Frank Mayer, and shortstop Mike Ruzich.
I have a slew of college commitments to post, which I will do in another blog entry, so be on the lookout for that along with a few other things.