The goal was to prepare for the playoffs and be at its best when they started.
The Cinnaminson High School baseball team, No. 13 in the Courier-Post Top 15, did just that.
The Pirates (17-6) have won four straight and eight of their last nine. They are scheduled to host Delran in a Central Jersey Group 2 quarterfinal playoff game Friday.
“My 10 seniors have been tremendous in keeping this team focused and dealing with any adversity we had earlier in the season,” coach Kevin Merrill said. “The attitude and determination on this team is the reason we are competing at a very high level right now and these guys want it to continue.”
Senior shortstop Jimmy Cicale has helped lead the way. He’s batting a lofty .527 (39-for-74) with nine doubles, three home runs, 25 runs scored and 25 RBIs.
“Jimmy is having one of the best individual seasons I have seen as a head coach,” Merrill said. “He is one of the biggest reasons for our overall success, as he has been consistently producing every day, even when the team has its struggles.”
Jim Dever (.451, eight doubles, 20 RBIs), Nick Thevanayagam (.347, 13 RBIs, 28 runs) and Travis Pewor (.390, 14 RBIs, 27 runs) have also played a major role.
“We have such a close-knit group of guys on this team and no matter who is in the lineup on any given day, everyone is supporting each other and excited for each person to have success,” Merrill added. “We are not a perfect team, but we know our strengths and weaknesses and we go to work every day to showcase what we do well and try to minimize our mistakes.”
• Two dozen : Atlantic Tech needed 12 innings to win its first-round Group 2 game over Lower Cape May. In the process, winning pitcher Matt Marmaro and starter Chris Sieg combined for 24 strikeouts.
Sieg fanned 17 in his seven innings of work, while Marmaro had seven in relief.
Sieg also had a two-run triple with two outs in the fifth. The game went into the 12th, when Greg Dillon delivered a game-winning single.
• Long time coming : Using a two-run sixth, Schalick edged Palmyra in a first round South Jersey Group 1 game for its first playoff victory since 1996. Dante Camilli struck out five en route to the decision, while Shawn Vazquez was 3-for-3.
“In my tenure here as coach, we have not won a playoff game and that seemed to be the hump we were looking to get over,” Schalick coach Travis LaFerriere said. “This win was a huge step in the right direction for the program.
“I have a group of guys this year who have worked hard to get better individually and have bought into the system we are teaching. We have targeted a few areas to translate wins. It sounds pretty basic, but minimizing free baserunners has been a theme. Eliminating walks and errors are the keys to winning and it has worked.”
• First to 100: Senior second baseman Adam Quaranta has enjoyed a solid final season for Moorestown Friends. He recently became the first player in program history to reach the 100-hit milestone and is also the career leader in at-bats (220), runs scored (86), hit by pitch (27) and RBIs (91).
Headed to Franklin & Marshall, Quaranta holds single-season records for hits (100), hit by pitch (9), batting average (.479) and on-base percentage (.609).
“Adam is the best pure hitter that I have coached,” Ron Obermeier said. “He has quick hands and controls the strike zone very well. He has powered the offense for three years now and will be very hard to replace.”
Quaranta is batting .479 with five doubles, two homers, 21 RBIs and 22 runs scored through 18 games.
The Foxes are the No. 1 seed in Non-Public B South and will host the Wardlaw-Hartridge/Pingry winner Tuesday.
• Off the charts : Jesse Wieck has quietly put up some pretty impressive numbers for Haddon Heights.
A senior center fielder, Weick is batting .559 with 12 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 19 RBIs and 31 runs scored. He also had 18 stolen bases.
“He’s played a great center field, covering gap to gap, and has great speed,” coach Eric Newell said. “He’s a very intense competitor; hates to lose at anything. He’s matured so much over the years and became more of a vocal leader this year.”
Weick will play soccer at Rutgers. He scored 29 goals last fall and holds the school record with 73 career goals.
The Garnets are scheduled to host Schalick in a South Jersey Group 1 quarterfinal playoff game Friday.
• Team player : When Clearview needed a leadoff hitter this season, Trip McCaffrey answered the call.
A sophomore right fielder, McCaffrey is batting .447 with five doubles, four triples, two home runs, 21 RBIs and 24 runs scored. He was also 12-for-12 in stolen bases.
In the first 15 games he was at the top of the order, McCaffrey reached based 10 times in his first at-bat.
“Trip stepped up in a big way to fill our void,” interim coach Mike Lerch said. “Trip put up impressive numbers for the team in this spot. He is the table setter in our offense, while supplying power and the ability to drive in runs.”
• In command : After a rough start in his first two outings, Sterling senior Andrew Miller has been nearly lights out.
A left-hander and Maryland recruit, Miller tossed a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts as the 11th-seeded Silver Knights upset No. 3 West Deptford in the first round of the South Jersey Group 2 playoffs.
Miller improved to 5-2 overall. In 462/3 innings, he’s struck out 76 and owns a 1.65 ERA. Opponents are batting just .123 and he’s recorded double-digit strikeouts in his last three games.
“After a tough start in his first two games of the year, Andrew has been awesome,” coach Chris Hoffman said. “He hasn’t yielded more than three hits in last six starts. Monday was his best game of the year. West Deptford is very good offensively and Andrew did a nice job.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2432; firstname.lastname@example.org