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South Jersey High School Baseball Teams Experience Heartbreak in State Finals

South Jersey High School Baseball Teams Experience Heartbreak in State Finals
South Jersey high school baseball teams had a rough time in the recently completed NJSIAA state championships. Four teams earned a trip to the finals, three lost by one run and another led by five runs in the seventh inning before losing.
 
While it was a great accomplishment for the four teams to reach the state final, the close losses have to sting.
 
All four teams were close to being state champions and enjoyed outstanding seasons.
 
Glassboro had the most devastating ending. The Bulldogs took a 5-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning, only to allow eight runs in an 8-5 loss. In the bottom of the inning, Glassboro showed its fight by having the tying run come to the plate, but a deep fly to center field ended the game.
 
Still it was a great season for the Bulldogs who ended 23-6.
 
In Group 4, an underdog Eastern team lost to Ridgewood, 2-1. The winners scored on two sacrifice flies. For Eastern, it was a season that went well above expectations. The Vikings were hit hard by graduation, but still finished 23-9 and earned a berth in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic.
 
Eastern junior Cole Boyan, who was among the top pitchers in South Jersey, allowed the powerful Ridgewood lineup just two runs.
 
Both South Jersey Non-Public champions, St. Augustine and Gloucester Catholic also lost one-run games in the state finals.
 
This year St. Augustine lost to Delbarton, 4-3 in eight innings in the Non-Public A final, extending a series of state final nail-biters between the two teams.
 
In 2017, Delbarton beat the Hermits, 2-1 in the state final. Last year St. Augustine returned the favor with a 1-0 win.
 
In this year’s loss, the Hermits had to face two of the top pitchers in the state, righthander Jack Leiter and Shawn Rapp.
 
Both will be pitching for college baseball powers. Leiter, the son of former major leaguer Al Leiter, is headed to Vanderbilt and Rapp, who earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, will attend North Carolina.
 
The Hermits ended 24-5 and can make an argument for being the best team in South Jersey.
 
Senior Jayson Hoopes, a 36th round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs and University of Virginia recruit, pitched a game in the state final. He didn’t figure in the decision, allowing two runs in six innings.
 
The final South Jersey team to compete in a state final was Gloucester Catholic, which lost, 4-3 to St. Mary’s of Rutherford in the Non-Public B state final.
 
St. Mary’s righthander Kenny Quijano kept Gloucester Catholic off balanced with 12 strikeouts. Gloucester Catholic’s Luke Lesch hit a solo home run off his future Rider teammate Quijano, one of the highlights for the Rams.
 
Gloucester Catholic, which won the two previous state titles, ended 20-6.
 
All four of these teams had great seasons, but it shows how difficult it is to win a state title.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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