By Phil Anastasia
The four top-ranked teams in South Jersey will square off in the first round of the 40th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic baseball tournament.
Gloucester Catholic (16-2), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 10, will face No. 4 Washington Township (12-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Maple Shade.
Second-ranked Eastern (16-2) will meet No. 3 St. Augustine (12-4) at 1 p.m. at Washington Township in another first-round game that looks more like a semifinal -- or final.
The pairings for the tournament were announced Sunday night.
Unlike many other tournaments, the Diamond Classic does not seed teams. Brackets are set before the tournament and teams are plugged into the field.
This season, the pre-set brackets had the Olympic American representative (Washington Township) playing the No. 1 At-Large team (Gloucester Catholic) and the Cape Atlantic American representative (St. Augustine) playing the No. 2 At-large team (Eastern).
Ten teams received automatic bids for leading their resective division races through Saturday.
Six teams received at-large bids in voting by a committee of South Jersey sportswriters. The six at-large teams, in order of their ranking: Gloucester Catholic, Eastern, Cherry Hill West, Bishop Eustace, Vineland and Williamstown.
First-round games will be played at four sites on Saturday. The quarterfinals will be staged as doubleheaders at Deptford and Washington Township on May 18.
The semifinals are May 19 at 1 p.m. at Deptford and Washington Township, with the title game at 5 p.m. that evening at Eastern.
The 40th Annual Joe Hartman Diamond Classic
Saturday, May 11
At Maple Shade
Delsea vs. Audubon, 10:30
Washington Township vs. Gloucester Catholic, 1
Cherry Hill West vs. Buena, 10:30
Vineland vs. Northern Burlington, 1
West Deptford vs. Pitman, 10:30
Williamstown vs. Camden Catholic, 1
At Washington Township
Bishop Eustace vs. New Egypt, 10:30
Eastern vs. St. Augustine, 1