Bridgewater-Raritan High School’s baseball team had pretty much locked up the top seed in the upcoming Somerset County Tournament with a thrilling 7-6 comeback win over Westfield Tuesday afternoon. But coach Max Newill wasn’t conceding anything after the game.
“We have Phillipsburg Tuesday,” said Newill.
A loss to the Stateliners – though probably not enough to dislodge them from the top seed – would have given the coaches pause in their voting, at Wednesday night’s seeding meeting especially if Ridge beat Immaculata.
As it turned out, Ridge lost to the Spartans in nine innings and as Newill expected the Panthers didn’t exactly breeze through Phillipsburg in a 4-3 victory.
The Panthers did something that used to be the case when Immaculata was rolling through the county. Newill arrived at the seeding meeting at North Plainfield knowing there really wasn’t a debate who’d be top seed in the tournament which begins Saturday with preliminary round games. The Panthers won’t be playing until May 2 in the quarterfinal round — just one win from the semifinals at TD Bank Ballpark.
The tournament begins Saturday with preliminary round games at the higher seed, followed a week from next Saturday with second round games. Quarterfinals are May 2, followed by the county semifinal doubleheader at TD Bank Ballpark May 5 and the county final May 15 at 7 p.m. at the same venue.
It’s the first time in Newill’s eight-year tenure that B-R has the top seed.
“We are playing well and earned the one seed, but at the end of the day it’s just a number, and you have to go out and play the games,” said Newill, whose team lost in the county semis last season. “Whether we play Gill or Watchung Hills in our first game it’s going to be great test. We just need to keep getting better and be ready to go come May 2nd,” said Newill, whose team will play the winner of the April 25 pre-quarter between No. 9
Watchung Hills at No. 8 Gill St. Bernards.
Somerville won’t have a county game until May 2nd either. The Pioneers are 6-1 and really wrapped up the No. 2 seed with a big Saturday night win over Immaculata, and commanding 8-1 Tuesday win over 2013 county champ and last year’s state Group II finalist Bernards.
First-year coach Chris Banos, who led Dunellen to two Greater Middlesex Conference Gold Division titles in his four years with the Destroyers, feels the same way Newill does about the high seed.
“It’s just a number unless you do something about it,” said Banos.
The teams will begin trying to protect their seeds – or upset the clubs with higher ones – this Saturday with preliminary round games.
Here’s the schedule
Saturday, April 18
(all games at 2 p.m.)
No. 15 Manville at No. 10 Rutgers Prep
No. 14 Bound Brook at No. 11 North Plainfield
No. 13 Montgomery at No. 12 Franklin
Saturday, April 25
(times to be announced)
15 Manville-10. Rutgers Prep winner at 7 Pingry
14. Bound Brook-11. North Plainfield winner at 6. Hillsborough
13. Montgomery-12. Franklin winner at 5. Immacualata
9. Watchung Hills at 8 Gill St. Bernards
(times to be announced)
15. Manville-10. Rutgers Prep-7 Pingry winner at 2. Somerville
14-Bound Brook-11. North Plainfield winner at 3. Ridge
13. Montgomery-12. Franklin-5. Immaculata winner at 4 Bernards
9. Watchung Hills-8. Gill St. Bernards winner at 1. Bridgewater-Raritan