The inclement weather of the last few days, which caused the postponement of the state Group 3 baseball championship from today to tomorrow, has given Shawnee's opponent a reprieve.

Yet the extra day's rest won't be a bad thing for Shawnee starter Anthony Montefusco, either.

Shawnee (18-6) will meet JFK Iselin (23-4) for the title at 1 p.m., at Toms River East.

Had the game been played today, JFK would not have been able to use ace righthander Brian Schroeder, who pitched 61/3 innings of relief in Wednesday's 8-5 semifinal win over Old Tappan.

According to NJSIAA rules, if a pitcher throws for more than five innings, he must have three full days' rest. With the extra day off, Schroeder is eligible to pitch as many as 10 innings.

JFK coach Jeremiah Smith said yesterday that Schroeder would indeed be his starter. Schroeder, headed for St. Peter's, is 11-0 with six saves in 722/3 innings.

"I have a lot of confidence in our No. 2, but he is our shortstop and makes us better defensively when he plays there," Smith said of Joe Marciano, who is batting .375.

According to Smith, Schroeder throws in the mid-80s, but the coach says he was recruited more for his bat. Schroeder, who plays shortstop when he doesn't pitch, is hitting .562 and has eight home runs.

As well as his pitcher has done, Smith realizes that scoring against Montefusco will be a challenge.

Montefusco, a righthander who is headed to George Mason and is a candidate for next week's major-league draft, is 8-2 with a 1.74 ERA and two saves in 681/3 innings. He has struck out 119 and walked 29, and in the postseason has taken things up another level.

He is 3-0 in the playoffs and has struck out 33, including 28 in his last two outings.

"We know we are going to have to be creative in scoring runs," Smith said.

Montefusco, who has been clocked consistently in the high-80s, would have been eligible to pitch yesterday because he pitched Tuesday, throwing a one-hitter and striking out 14 in a 5-0 win over West Windsor-Plainsboro North.

Still, at this time of year, he's not going to complain about an extra day's rest.

"I was ready to go [today], but it helps to get the extra day because I've been going on three days' rest," Montefusco said yesterday.

Montefusco was happy that JFK would be able to use its ace.

"You always like going up against a team's best," Montefusco said.

While Schroeder won't be easy to hit, he will find plenty of challenges in trying to shut down a Shawnee team averaging 8.2 runs a game.

Centerfielder John Montemurro, one of the more underrated players in South Jersey, is hitting .427, with three home runs and a team high of 34 RBIs. First baseman Eric Sellitto is batting .402, with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. Montefusco is hitting .383, and has five home runs and 20 RBIs.

JFK is seeking its first state title, while Shawnee is going for its second after having won the 2003 Group 4 championship.