Staff Report

(Editor’s note: Every Monday morning throughout the season South Jersey Glory Days will provide some highlights from the previous week of the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League as well as look ahead to some of the big matchups coming up.)

The South Jersey South Shore Baseball League began its second season on May 31, and this year there are 11 teams with the inclusion of the Hammonton Hot Shots, one of the perennial powers of the now-defunct Atlantic County Baseball League.

The South Jersey Surf, managed by former pro and current Atlantic Cape Community College assistant Jeff Ball and featuring a host of Buccaneers, won the league last year by beating the Buena Blue Dawgs, which feature former New York Mets and San Francisco Giants catcher Johnny Monell Jr.

It seems as though the Blue Dawgs have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

Buena has jumped out to a great start, winning both of its games in the opening week to take the early lead in the standings. Dante Coia went five strong innings in the season opener as Buena got past Ventnor, 6-5. Luis Sauri picked up the save in that one and former Buena Regional High star and Major League Baseball draft pick Denny Brady smacked a two-run double to pace the offense.

In Buena’s other win, the Dawgs took down the Surf in a rematch of last year’s best-of-5 championship series. A.J. Martinez allowed just one run in four innings as Buena rolled to a 9-1 victory. Jake Guglielmi had three hits and Brady hit a 3-run homer.

IN THE CARDS: The Northfield Cardinals started the season by retiring the jersey numbers of former stars Justin Epifanio and J.J. Swentkowski, both former Egg Harbor Township High standouts. Northfield didn’t get the win against Hammonton that night, but did pick up a pair of wins later in the week, beating Ventnor 7-2 and then getting a gem from lefty Julian Costa to slip past the Ocean City Water Dogs, 1-0. Costa struck out 11 in a complete-game 1-hitter, and also drove in the only run with a walkoff home run.

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY: The SJSSBL has some exciting news for the 2022 season, as the league is partnering with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gamechanger in connection with BFA Productions to livestream every game of the season. BFA Productions, a local South Jersey livestreaming company, plans to stream at least one game per week complete with different camera angles and commentary, and all other games will be streamed via the gamechanger app.

THE BREAKDOWN: In case you’re not familiar with the SJSSBL, it’s a league designed for high level college and high school players, typically ages 16 to 25, in Atlantic and Cape May counties. There are 11 teams: The Northfield Cardinals, South Jersey Surf, Buena Blue Dawgs, Ventnor Bay Sox, Somers Point Captains, Egg Harbor Township Eagles, Ocean City Water Dogs, Egg Harbor City Knights, Galloway Mustangs, Absecon Outlaws and Hammonton Hot Shots. Games are played at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with each team scheduled for three games per week for seven weeks. The All-Star Game  and Home Run Derby are scheduled for July 16 at Birch Grove Park in Northfield.

GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK: There are some outstanding matchups this week, as tonight the Surf and Cardinals battle it out at Birch Grove Park for Northfield bragging rights. On Tuesday night, Buena travels to Egg Harbor City to face the Knights, a team that typically plays well at home. Wednesday night features Absecon at Ventnor and Somers Point at Hammonton, as former Millville star Nick Buonadonna will get the start on the mound for the Captains. Thursday features another great matchup, as Buena travels to Northfield to face the Cardinals, and on Friday Galloway visits Absecon.