Staff Writer

There’s an old saying in baseball that you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher. When it comes to the high school baseball state playoffs, it’s all about pitching — more specifically, who has pitching depth and who doesn’t. It’s difficult to make a deep run in the state playoffs without a minimum of two quality starters and at least two or three solid relievers.

Here’s a look at this year’s state playoffs in each South Jersey group, who I think could make a run based on the type of pitching they have and the way they’ve been playing lately, and a double-digit seed that could bust up each bracket.


The Matchups: 16 Williamstown at 1 Cherokee; 9 Toms River East at 8 Kingsway; 12 Washington Township at 5 Rancocas Valley; 13 Cherry Hill East at 4 Lenape; 14 Toms River North at 3 Egg Harbor Township; 11 Eastern at 6 Millville; 10 GCIT at 7 Southern; 15 Central Regional at 2 Vineland.

WATCH OUT FOR: Egg Harbor Township. The Eagles have one of the top pitchers in the state in Cameron Flukey and He would get two starts in sectionals if EHT can advance to the semis. He throws in the low to mid 90s and tops out around 97. The Eagles also have Zach McLaughlin and Troy Sabott, who both have sub-4.00 ERAs with at least 20 innings pitched. The Eagles have lost three straight, but didn’t use any of their top pitchers in regular-season losses to Absegami and Clearview after a tough loss against Buena in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament.

DOUBLE DIGIT SEED THAT COULD SURPRISE: No. 12 Washington Township. The Minutemen have won four of their last five, have several senior pitchers, and they have a lot of pop. About 25 percent of their hits go for extra bases and Township averages nearly six runs per game.


The Matchups: 16 Deptford at 1 Shawnee; 9 Mainland at 8 Cumberland; 12 Pemberton at 5 Highland; 13 Timber Creek at 4 Hammonton; 14 Toms River South at 3 Cherry Hill West; 11 Moorestown at 6 Absegami; 10 Clearview at 7 Ocean City; 15 Lacey Township at 2 Delsea.

WATCH OUT FOR: Ocean City. The Red Raiders have won four of their last five and these guys expect to win in the playoffs. They have a pesky offense that has scored 139 runs and some pretty good pitching even without Maryland commit Duke McCarron, who has been dealing with an injury all season. Dante Edwardi has a 2.25 ERA in 28 innings and sophomore Evan Taylor has posted a 0.93 in 15 innings of work. Taylor also has 33 hits and a program-record 39 RBIs.

DOUBLE DIGIT SEED THAT COULD SURPRISE: 11 Moorestown. The Quakers have been right there in a lot of their losses and have some good wins, including over Cherry Hill West, Rancocas Valley and Seneca, and they lost just 2-1 to Shawnee, the No. 1 team in South Jersey for much of the season.


The Matchups: 16 Pennsauken Tech at 1 Cedar Creek; 9 Seneca at 8 Manchester; 12 Middle Township at 5 Collingswood; 13 Oakcrest at 4 Haddonfield; 14 Barnegat at 3 Cinnaminson; 11 Overbrook at 6 West Deptford; 10 Sterling at 7 Lower Cape May; 15 Pleasantville at 2 Haddon Heights.

WATCH OUT FOR: West Deptford. The Eagles have won four in a row, including wins over Hammonton and Haddonfield, and they are used to being in the postseason. They have six guys with at least 17 hits and senior Shea McKenna has a 1.82 ERA in a team-high 34 2/3 innings.

DOUBLE DIGIT SEED THAT COULD SURPRISE: No. 13 Oakcrest. This may sound crazy considering the Falcons have lost 13 of their last 15 games, but in the playoffs sometimes it just takes one good start from a pitcher and a few breaks on offense. The Falcons have Will Grayson, a junior who has 53 strikeouts in 32 innings and they have four guys in their lineup with 16+ hits. They have scored 105 runs in 21 games.


The Matchups: 16 Gateway at 1 Buena; 9 Schalick at 8 Glassboro; 12 Cape May Tech at 5 Woodstown; 13 Clayton at 4 Paulsboro; 14 Maple Shade at 3 Pennsville; 11 Haddon Township at 6 Gloucester; 10 Wildwood at 7 Pitman; 15 Salem at 2 Audubon.

WATCH OUT FOR: Woodstown. The Wolverines have been playing pretty well lately and have wins this season over Timber Creek, Overbrook, Schalick and Glassboro. They also lost by a run to Paulsboro and two runs to Haddon Heights.

DOUBLE DIGIT SEED THAT COULD SURPRISE: No. 14 Maple Shade. This squad has a couple of solid pitchers in senior Nick Capone (3.32 ERA) and Alex Morales (3.19 ERA, 45 Ks in 26 innings). It’s a long ride to Pennsville, but Maple Shade may just be up for the challenge.


The Matchups: 1 Red Bank Catholic (bye); 9 Union Catholic at 8 Pingry; 12 Camden Catholic at 5 Christian Brothers Academy; 4 St. Augustine Prep (bye); 3 Donovan Catholic (bye); 11 St. John Vianney at 6 Notre Dame; 10 Immaculata at 7 Paul VI.

WATCH OUT FOR: Donovan Catholic. The Griffins have been flying a little bit under the radar despite being 22-2 and they have faced a lot of good Shore Conference teams. Their only losses have come against RBC and CBA, so they’ll be looking for some payback.

DOUBLE DIGIT SEED THAT COULD SURPRISE: No. 10 Immaculata. This team has won four of its last six games and has some wins over some pretty good public schools.


The Matchups: 1 Gloucester Catholic (bye); 9 Princeton Day at 8 Holy Cross; 5 Holy Spirit (bye); 4 St. Rose (bye); 3 Bishop Eustace (bye); 6 Doane Academy (bye); 10 Moorestown Friends at 7 St. Joseph Academy; 2 Ranney School (bye).

WATCH OUT FOR: Ranney School. This team has become a Shore Conference juggernaut and has wins over Bishop Eustace, St. John Vianney and Rumson, and its only losses were early in the season against Delbarton and in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game against RBC.

DOUBLE DIGIT SEED THAT COULD SURPRISE: Well, since it’s the only double-digit seed in the bracket, I’ll go with No. 10 Moorestown Friends! The Foxes have won four of their last five games and have a senior pitcher, Andrew Mercantini, who has a 2.70 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. He has 22 strikeouts and has walked just eight, so the Wildcats of St. Joe will have to earn their way on base.