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Baseball: UPDATED look at Diamond Classic

By Phil Anastasia

The field for the 41st Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic will be announced on Sunday night.

Haddonfield, St. Augustine, Pennsville and Northern Burlington appear to have locked up automatic bids.

Gloucester Catholic has no chance of one.

The Rams, who were moved from the Tri-County's Diamond Division to the Royal for the purposes of the Diamond Classic's automatic-bid arrangement, won't play the minimum of 6 "division" games before the cutoff.

But the Rams, who rose to No. 3 in The Inquirer South Jersey Top 10 after Sunday's 11-1 win over then-No. 2 St. Augustine, almost certainly will make the field with an at-large berth.

Haddonfield (5-1 division record) had already clinched a berth but put an exclamation point on its return to the prestigious tournament with a 16-10 victory over closest pursuer Sterling on Tuesday.

Pennsville, the No. 2 team in the rankings, went to 6-0 in the Tri-County Classic and 13-0 overall with a 15-0 victory over Wildwood on Tuesday.

Northern Burlington, the No. 5 team, likely locked up the Burlco Liberty berth with a 7-4 win over Rancocas Valley on Tuesday. NBC is 6-1 in the division and doesn't have another game scheduled before Saturday's cutoff.

No. 4 St. Augustine went to 6-0 in the division with a 12-4 win over Hammonton on Tuesday.

According to the tournament's pre-determined schedule, Haddonfield will face Northern Burlington in a first-round game at 10:30 on May 10 at Overbrook.

The Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic is a 16-team tournament that is scheduled to start with eight games at four sites on May 10 and culminate with the title game May 18 at Eastern.

Washington Township is the defending champion.

Under the tournament's format, 10 teams will receive automatic bids as division leaders and six teams will received at-large bids.

The at-large bids will be based on the recommendations of a committee of sports writers who cover South Jersey baseball.

This week will be crucial for teams jockeying for berths, although the weather could have a big impact. Rain likely will wash out Wednesday's action and could put Thursday's games in jeopardy, too.

Here's a look at where the races for the 10 division automatic bids:

Burlington Liberty: Northern Burlington.

Burlington Freedom: The winner of Friday's game between host Maple Shade (7-1) and New Eygpt (5-1) could get the berth, although Riverside (4-1) remains alive.

Olympic American: Washington Township (6-1) and Cherokee (6-1) are tied for the top spot. The sixth-ranked Minutemen are supposed to play Eastern on Wednesday while Cherokee is scheduled to play Lenape. Washington Township holds the tie-breaker edge based on a victory over Cherokee.

Olympic National: Paul VI is 5-0 and No. 1 Bishop Eustace is 5-1. They were supposed to play Wednesday but the game already has been postponed to Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Crusaders' field. Camden Catholic (4-2), which made the final last season, is alive but needs a few things to break its way.

Colonial Liberty: Haddonfield.

Colonial Patriot: Woodbury (4-1) and Audubon (5-1) will settle this race. Audubon is supposed to play at Haddon Townshp on Wednesday. Woodbury is home vs. Lindenwold on Thursday.

Tri-Co Classic: Pennsville.

Tri-Co Royal: Clearview (5-2) has Williamstown (3-2) scheduled for Wednesday and Kingsway (3-2) scheduled for Friday. GCIT (3-2) is scheduled to play Delsea Wednesday.

Cape-American: St. Augustine.

Cape-National: Buena (8-1), Cedar Creek (7-1) and Ocean City (6-2) are jostling for this berth. Ocean City is scheduled to play at Cedar Creek on Thursday.

Here's the Diamond schedule:

Saturday May 10

at Maple Shade

St. Augustine vs. Tri-Royal, 10:30

At Large 1 vs. Colonial Patriot, 1

at Deptford

At Large 3 vs. Olympic American, 10:30

At Large 5 vs. Cape National, 1

at Overbrook

Northern Burlington vs. Haddonfield, 10:30

At Large 6 vs. Pennsville, 1

at Washington Twp.

At Large 4 vs. Olympic National, 10:30

At Large 2 vs. Burlco Freedom, 1

Saturday May 17

at Deptford

Times TBD

Winners of Maple Shade games

Winners of Deptford games

at Washington Twp.

Times TBD

Winners of Overbrook games

Winners of Washington Twp. games

Sunday May 18

Semifinals at Deptford and Washington Twp., 1

Final at Eastern, 5

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