NJSIAA Group IV baseball semifinal preview

NJSIAA Group IV baseball semifinal preview


NJSIAA Group IV baseball semifinal preview


Who: Randolph (26-5) vs. Westfield (21-8)

Where/When: Ramapo College, today, 4 p.m.

How they got here: Randolph defeated Wayne Valley 7-2, Belleville 5-0, Montclair 10-3 and Passaic Tech 10-0; Westfield defeated North Hunterdon 4-2, Perth Amboy 2-1, Linden 1-0, Scotch Plains-Fanwood 15-7

Randolph report: Randolph, the Morris County Tournament champion, has beaten opponents by a 7.0-2.8 average per game. Both teams have won six straight game. Randolph was beaten 3-2 in nine innings by Mount Olive on May 16 and has outscored opponents 53-5 since. The Rams outscored their four sectional opponents 32-5 as opposed to Westfield’s 22-10 in its four sectional victories.

Randolph history: The Rams have made it to four Group IV finals in the last seven years, winning it all in 2010 by beating Jackson Memorial. Westfield made the 2011 Group IV final, losing to Manalapan, which beat Hillsborough last season for the championship.

Strength of schedule: Randolph went 2-11 against Skyland Delaware Division teams. Randolph and Central Group IV champ Hunterdon Central were tied at 1-1 after six April 13, but the Rams scored 10 runs in the top of the seventh to win 10-1. Randolph beat North 2 IV runners-up North Hunterdon 8-3 May 5 at Diamond Nation and lost to Immaculata 7-6 May 16 at Diamond Nation. Randolph beat Roxbury Saturday 9-2 to clinch the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference National Division title. Westfield went 2-4 against Skyland Delaware opponents, losing by mercy rule to North Hunterdon (13-3 in five innings April 17) and Watchung Hills (13-3 in six innings April 20), Bridgewater-Raritan (4-3 April 24) and Ridge (2-0, May 16). The Blue Devils, who have handed North 2 Group III Cranford (24-1) its only loss, made the sectional final and Union County Tournament final in the same season for just the second time. Cranford beat the Blue Devils 8-0 for the county crown.

Westfield report: The Blue Devils have won six straight games since a 2-0 loss to Ridge on May 14. The Blue Devils have outscored opponents 34-11 during the run with two shutouts – a regular-season 6-0 win over Oratory Prep and a 1-0 sectional quarterfinal win over Linden. The Blue Devils got off to an 0-3 start, but won at last year’s North 2 Group IV champ Hillsborough 8-4 on April 5, then won the North 2 Group IV title by avenging the loss to North Hunterdon with a 4-2 win Friday in Clinton. Westfield has a 4.9-4.2 runs per game advantage.

Westfield history: The Blue Devils won their third sectional title Friday and second in three years and hope to earn their second Group IV final berth. Westfield lost to Manalapan in 2011.

Close calls: Randolph scored four runs in the final two innings on May 27 to beat Morristown Beard 4-3 in the first round of the Morris County Tournament. Westfield trailed 5-1 after five innings at No. 7 Scotch Plains-Fanwood in a North 2 Group IV first-round game, but scored eight runs in the sixth and six in the seventh and won 15-7.


More USA TODAY High School Sports