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C.H. East, Cumberland, Gateway alive in tourney

Wacky is the best word that describes what has occurred in the first two rounds of the NJSIAA South Jersey baseball tournament.


is the best word that describes what has occurred in the first two rounds of the NJSIAA South Jersey baseball tournament.

There are three double-digit-seeded teams left in tomorrow's four public-school semifinals, including two 13th seeds - Cherry Hill East in Group 4 and Cumberland in Group 3. Tenth-seeded Gateway is also alive in Group 2.

The better-seeded teams have a losing record (13-16) in the tourney's first two rounds.

In the biggest stunner of the tournament, ninth-seeded Clearview defeated top-seeded Shawnee, 3-2, and advanced into tomorrow's Group 3 semifinals.

The Pioneers will get to play a home game because they are facing 13th-seeded Cumberland.

Clearview's Shane Taylor (4-0), an emerging sophomore who had a no-hitter until the fifth inning against Shawnee, is expected to face Cumberland. Taylor pitched a complete game and defeated Cumberland, 3-2, in a Tri-County Royal matchup on May 13.

In the win at Shawnee, Taylor "had command of all three of his pitches, and he showed a lot of poise and kept us in the game," Clearview coach Rocco Cornacchia said.

While the upset sent shock waves through South Jersey, Cornacchia wasn't overly surprised.

"We're 13-8, but we've lost five one-run games, so our record [could be a lot better]," he said. "I don't want to say Shawnee took us lightly, but we executed when we had to and our confidence grew with each out. The kids believed they could get it done."

They believed even after Shawnee's Reid Pulford hit a two-run homer to tie the score, 2-2, in the seventh.

"I'm amazed we didn't lose our composure after the homer," Cornacchia said.

Ultimate respect.

Cherry Hill East coach Erik Radbill showed his respect for Mike Trout when he intentionally walked the Millville junior with the

bases loaded

early in their Group 4 quarterfinal. Even though it cost East a third-inning run, the strategy worked as Tyler Catan struck out the next batter and the Cougars eventually scored an 11-5 win.

Trout was intentionally walked three times in the game.

Hail, Colonial.

The Final Four of the Group 2 tourney has three Colonial teams: Haddon Township, Audubon and Gateway. Buena, which has quietly had a strong season, is the fourth team.

Top-seeded Haddon Township will host Audubon tomorrow and try to avenge last month's 5-3 regular-season loss.

A fourth Colonial team, West Deptford, has reached the Group 3 semifinals. The Eagles will play at Timber Creek tomorrow.

Streaking Gateway.

Gateway, which will play at Buena in tomorrow's South Jersey Group 2 semifinals, is the region's hottest team. After a 1-7 start, the Gators have won 12 of their last 13 games and raised their record to 13-8.

"We weren't hitting much early in the year," Gateway outfielder Tim Zindel said, "but when the weather warmed up, our bats got going."

Third baseman Dom DePasquale, pitcher/shortstop Nick Alloway and catcher Rick Ponto have been the hitting leaders for Gateway, which used last-inning home runs by Rob Flem and Alloway to key a three-run rally and stun second-seeded Delran, 6-5, in the quarterfinals.

In the early part of the season, "everybody was down," Alloway said, "but now we're playing with a lot of confidence and ready to go."

So is Buena, which has played a much tougher schedule than the Gators. Buena has faced one Colonial team this year, losing a 10-9, eight-inning decision to Sterling on April 12.

Pennsville soaring.

Pennsville is two wins away from an unprecedented seventh straight South Jersey Group 1 title.

Tomorrow, the third-seeded Eagles will play at second-seeded Pitman, a Tri-County Classic foe. In two regular-season meetings this season, Pennsville defeated Pitman, 5-2 and 16-12.

In tomorrow's other Group 1 semifinal, Maple Shade will play host to Gloucester.

Gloucester, Pennsville and Pitman give the Tri-County Classic three Group 1 semifinalists.

Non-Public update.

Local teams in Non-Public sections will play their first tournament games tomorrow.

In Non-Public A quarterfinals, St. Augustine is at Christian Brothers Academy, Holy Spirit hosts defending champion St. Joseph of Metuchen, and Gloucester Catholic travels to Notre Dame.

Gloucester Catholic won a state title last year but was in the Non-Public B section.

Gloucester Catholic and St. Augustine seem to be peaking, and it wouldn't be surprising if they reached the sectional final.

In Non-Public B quarterfinals tomorrow, Holy Cross is favored to defeat visiting St. Joseph, while Bishop Eustace, which has been aided by the return of power-hitting Dan Sieracki, figures to get past Wildwood Catholic and advance to face Diamond Classic champion Sacred Heart.

Toms River magic?

The Toms River schools usually do well in the tournament, and this year is no exception.

Top seed Toms River North will host Cinderella Cherry Hill East in tomorrow's South Jersey Group 4 semifinals. Sixth seed Toms River South, which ousted defending state champ Washington Township in the quarterfinals, will play at second seed Lenape in the other semifinal.