As the temperatures begin to heat up, so does summer baseball, and after having dominated the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League in their first two years, the South Jersey Surf are climbing to the top once again after getting on a recent hot streak.
The Surf, coached by former Major Leaguer Jeff Ball, won the league title in the league’s first two years of existence and despite losing players to other teams and some to injury, the squad has somehow found its way back to the top of the standings as we enter the final week of the regular season.
Here’s a quick look at the standings and how each team has been playing lately. There are 12 teams in the league, the bottom two don’t make the playoffs and seed Nos. 7-10 have to compete in a play-in game on Sunday, July 16 to get into the eight-team playoff bracket. The playoffs begin with the quarterfinals on Monday, July 17 in a best-of-3 series beginning at the higher seed’s home field.
South Jersey Surf (12-5): A few weeks ago the Surf were a mediocre 6-5 and in the middle of the pack, but they’ve gotten things going, ripping off six straight wins to pull into a first-place tie with Margate, and expansion team this season that still has some players left over from the old Margate Hurricanes of the Atlantic County Baseball League. The Surf scored a pair of wins over Ocean City, and five of the six wins during the streak have come by three runs or less.
Margate Hurricanes (12-5): The Canes have been nearly as hot as the Surf, having won seven of their last nine, with the only losses coming against Ocean City and Somers Point.
Northfield Cardinals (11-6): The Cards have been playing well lately, too, winning four of their last five, and they have a big showdown tonight at Birch Grove Park at 7 p.m. against the Surf.
Absecon Outlaws (10-7): The Outlaws were in first place for a few weeks earlier this season but have slipped a little recently. They have a big game on Tuesday when they host Margate at Pitney Park.
Ocean City Water Dogs (10-9): The Water Dogs recently suffered a three-game skid, but snapped that the last two games with wins, including a 7-5 win over Margate last Thursday.
Hammonton Hot Shots (10-9): The Hot Shots are badly in need of a win as they have dropped four straight. They’ll look to snap that skid tonight when they travel to Egg Harbor Township.
Egg Harbor City Knights (8-7): The Knights have won four of their last five, including grinding out a tough extra-innings win at Somers Point on Friday night.
Buena Blue Dawgs (8-9): The Dawgs have played in the championship series for two straight years but now find themselves battling just to get into the playoffs this summer. They host Somers Point in a doubleheader tonight that could decide the playoff fate for each team.
Ventnor Bay Sox (6-10): With a couple of teams breathing down their neck for the play-in round, the Bay Sox have a loaded schedule this week and need a couple wins. They play Absecon tonight, the Surf in a doubleheader on Tuesday, the Cardinals on Wednesday, Egg Harbor Township on Thursday and Somers Point on Friday.
Galloway Mustangs (6-13): The Mustangs have a tough stretch to close out the season this week as they take on Buena, Northfield and Egg Harbor City.
Egg Harbor Township Eagles (5-11): The Eagles have lost three straight since a 5-4 win over Buena on July 3, and it doesn’t get any easier this week as they have six games in five days to close the regular season.
Somers Point Captains (5-12): The Captains went 2-3 in a five-game week last week and need to get some wins over Buena, Hammonton and Northfield this week to have any shot at the playoffs.