Baseball Group 3 Sectional Championship Preview
Photo by: (@millburn.baseball)
Montville vs Morris Knolls:
The #1 seed Morris Knolls is entering this championship matchup being favored to win it all against a tough Montville squad. On their trip to the finals, Knolls took out Bergenfield and Ramapo. Junior Luke Dickerson leads the way for this potent Golden Eagles offense, batting .462 and slugging 7 HR with 26 RBI. Dickerson is batting .500 so far this postseason and is looking to come up with some big time hits in the championship game. The pitching is spearheaded by a fierce tandem of Joe O’Toole and Ryan Iberer, both possessing an ERA slightly below 2.5. Look for this duo to come out firing during this outing.
Montville is looking to take revenge against Morris Knolls after they were defeated 2-1 in the Morris County Tournament. The Mustangs are the #3 seed in this tournament, coming in with a 19-9 record. Montville is currently on a 4 game win streak and is looking to continue that with a sectional title. Although the Mustangs have a well rounded lineup, Ian Kaiser, Logan Force, and Hunter Force are some of the biggest contributors on offense. Kaiser leads the team in hits with 35 while batting .438. Logan Force leads the team in RBI with 21, and his brother Hunter contributes with 29 hits and 14 RBI of his own. Montville takes pride in their pitching as they have 8 pitchers on their team that post an ERA under 2.3 which is very impressive. Logan Force also gets it done on the mound, leading the team in strikeouts with 41 K’s in 30 IP.
Millburn vs North Hunterdon
Millburn has been one of the best teams in the state all season, looking to continue that trend by winning the North 2 sectional championship. The Greater Newark Tournament Champion Millers are 26-3, taking out some top programs this season like Delbarton and Old Tappan. Millburn’s blazing hot bats are led by senior Robert Schneider. The shortstop is hitting .426, leading the team in hits with 43 and runs with 40. Power bat Alex Wilson is another important piece of this lineup. Wilson is batting .364 with 4 HR and a team-leading 41 RBI. You can’t mention Millburn without mentioning their star senior, Steven Echavarria. On the offensive end, Echavarria is batting .312 with 32 RBI and a team-leading 5 HR. Although his batting stats are impressive, his best work is done on the mound. Considered one of the best pitchers in the state, Steven Echavarria posts an outstanding 0.32 ERA with 72 K’s in only 43.2 IP. He has only allowed 2 ER all season. Alex Faust is another trusted arm, giving up only 3 ER in 24 IP. Coming in as possibly favorites in the whole group, Millburn is looking to exceed expectations.
North Hunterdon enters this finals matchup on the heels of one of the biggest upsets this postseason. They did something no other team has been able to do this season, taking down the #2 seed Cranford who was the last remaining undefeated team in the state at 26-0 prior to their matchup. Sophomore ace Chris Sand pitched a gem, tossing a complete game shutout along with 6 strikeouts, to help the Lions advance to the finals. North Hunterdon’s best offensive weapon, Wyatt Demeo came up big, going 3-4 and scoring a run in the win against Cranford. Demeo has been vital to this offense, batting .405 leading the team with 30 hits, as well as runs with 20. North Hunterdon looks to continue the momentum from last round and upset Millburn to advance to the Group 3 tournament.
Lawrence vs Middletown North:
Lawrence enters the Group 3 Central Sectional Finals as the #3 seed. The Cardinals have had a very impressive season as they come into this tournament with a 21-6 record while on a 4 game win-streak. This strong Lawrence offense is led by Sophomore Teak Toto who is batting .424, and leads the team in hits with 28 and RBI with 32. Another big contributor to the lineup is freshman standout Deacon Moore who is batting a team-best .429. On the flip side, The Cardinals have a true ace of the diamond. Junior Kellen Moore posts a 1.37 ERA along with 69 K’s in 56.1 IP. Connor Crowley is another notable hurler, posting a 1.77 ERA and 42 K’s in 27.2 IP. Lawrence looks to continue their solid season and advance to the Group 3 tournament with a win.
Middletown North is the #4 seed in the bracket, entering the finals with a 16-8 record. The Lions are coming off a tight win over cross-town rival, Middletown South, in the semi-final round. Middletown North has a lineup that puts the bat to the ball at an astounding rate. They have 7 players, with at least 30 at bats, that are batting over .390. Leading the crew is Dylan Briggs, who is batting .538 and leading the team in hits with 21 and RBI with 16. Sophomore Gabe Ahlemeyer is the man on the mound, posting a 2.18 ERA with 23 K’s in 45 IP. Middletown North has been playing well all tournament and looks to continue that in the finals.
Delsea vs Mainland
#2 seed Delsea has been great all season, coming into the finals with a 20-6 record. They have been featured in the Top 20 a few times this season, rightfully so. The Crusaders are coming off of a nail-biter against Cherry Hill West, taking them down 2-1 in the semi-finals. Delsea has a strong lineup top to bottom. Power slugger Zach Maxwell is one of their biggest contributors, batting .430 while leading the team in HR with 4 and RBI with 29. Another key offensive piece is Junior, Mike McGinley. He is batting .494 with 3 HR and 27 RBI, also leading the team in hits with 44. Delsea uses a trio of pitchers and it seems to work out well. Frank Cairone, Ryan Harrison, and George Starr have all logged over 33 IP and possess a sub 2.5 ERA. Delsea is favored heavily in this matchup and they will be looking to assert their dominance in the finals.
Mainland is on one of the most magical runs this postseason. The Mustangs come in as the #9 seed, beating the #8, #1, and #4 seed to reach the finals. The pitching/defense has been out of this world for Mainland, as they have only let up 2 runs in 3 games so far. Mainland has all the momentum in the world as they enter the finals on a 4 game win-streak, even though they have a record of 12-13. Joe Sheeran leads the way on offense with a solid .347 average and leading the team with 25 hits and 16 runs. Sophomore standout Jake Lodgek has been huge for Mainland this season, especially in the postseason. Lodgek got the win over Cumberland in the first round as he pitched 5 innings, struck out 7, and only let up 1 ER. His biggest win of the season came last round, where he pitched a complete game shutout over 4-seed Hammonton. Although Delsea may be the favorite on paper, you can never count out a team that is on a Cinderella run, so look for Mainland to try and complete this miraculous run with another upset over the #2 seed!