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Verona's sophomore Collin Kiernan (3-1) is one of the talented pitchers to watch in upcoming first round of the 83rd Greater Newark Tournament, as dangerous lower seeds will look to ride their ace hurlers in upset bids in the countywide diamond tourney. Verona, the 11th seed, will travel to 6th-seeded Newark Academy 2 p.m. Saturday. (Photo by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)
MKA's junior southpaw Conor Nolan, seen firing a pitch to the plate in 2-1 SEC-Liberty Division victory over West Essex on April 18, is hurler to watch in upcoming GNT. (Photo by Doug Allen)
Senior left-hander Jesse Evans (4-0) has been locked in for pitching-rich Columbia, the fourth seed in the GNT and a team to watch among the upper seeds in 83rd edition. (Photo by Rob Lax)
Right-hander Eric Kaufman (3-0) helps spearhead deep mound corps for top-seeded Seton Hall Prep as Pirates prepare to defend GNT title and win 15th crown. (Photo by Richard Morris/SHP)
What Pitchers Will Rise To Occasion
It seems almost inevitable that a pitcher for any one of the top 16 seeds in the Greater Newark Tournament will rise to the occasion and hurl a gem in the first round, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 2; however, with Scholastic Aptitude Tests that morning, some schools may opt to play before Saturday, as is the case for 10th-seeded West Essex at 7th-seeded Livingston, which is now set for Thursday afternoon (April 30) at 4 p.m.
The question, however, as the GNT's Round of 16 contests are about to be played is what pitchers will indeed step up and pitch to a premiium level, and perhaps even leading to an upset or two along the way, which - after all- has seemed to be par for the course each spring in the granddaddy of Garden State in-season tournaments.
Among the intriguing first round contests to contemplate a possible pitcher’s gem might be 14th-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy at third-seeded Bloomfield at 3 p.m. Saturday, where the Cougars’ junior ace, left-hander Conor Nolan (1-1), is capable of limiting almost any lineup. He beat the Bengals in the GNT quarters in 2013 as a freshman, and had a superb effort with a complete-game 6-hitter in a recent 2-1 Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division victory over West Essex.
How about 11th-seeded Verona (7-4) with its sensational sophomore Collin Kiernan (3-1), who has struck out 50 in 24 innings, taking on sixth-seeded Newark Academy (7-5), 2 p.m., Saturday?
Even ninth-seeded Montclair (3-8), which has certainly had its struggles, is capable of coming up with a well-pitched game from its improving mound staff, led by veteran junior righty breaking ball specialist Van Berg (0-3), who allowed just five hits in six innings of work in a 5-3 SEC-American Division loss at undefeated Seton Hall Prep (12-0) on Friday afternoon.
The Mounties face eighth-seeded Belleville (5-6), 7 p.m., Saturday, under the lights, in a game that could be a toss-up. The Bucs are led by their top hurler Steve Basantes (1-1)
Speaking of deep pitching staffs, SHP (12-0) is certainly at the head of the class in terms of numbers to turn to as the top-seeded Pirates face the 16th seed to come out of the ‘Play-In’ bracket, which will be either Cedar Grove or Bloomfield Tech, who play each other at the Panthers' diamond in a third preliminary round 'Play-In' bracket contest which must be played by Thursday, April 30.
Eric Kaufman (3-0) leads the SHP mound corps which also feature the likes of Brendan Shamieh (3-0) and Ryan McSherry (2-0) along with an experienced arm in tight tournament spots in Gerald DePhillips (1-0). The Pirates have a 10-member staff that will provide more depth than any other team in the GNT field as the two-time defending champs seek their fourth title in the past five years and 15th overall.
Second-seeded Millburn (8-4) is led by junior Kevin Czapelski (4-1), who has 31 strikeouts in 25 2/3 IP, while Max Jacobs (1-2) and Matt Abrams (1-1) are among the capable arms for the always pitching-strong Millers, who face the 15th seed which will be either East Side or Science Park, which will meet in their third preliminary round, 'Play-In' bracket contest at the Red Raiders' diamond on or before Thursday, April 30.
Bloomfield (7-4) has its own deep frontline pitching with the likes of seniors Jason Aktas (2-0), Anthony Frascati (1-2), Jordan Guglielmino (1-1) and Kyle Tucker (2-0).
Fourth-seeded Columbia (13-1) has three dynamite starters in senior southpaw Jesse Evans (4-0) and sparkling sophomores Danny Boehmer (4-0, with just two earned runs allowed n 25 IP) and Peter Nolet (4-0, one earned runs in 26 2/3 IP). Sam Berkley is a top bullpen guy for coach Joe Fischetti’s Cougars, who entertain 13th-seeded West Orange (6-5), 3 p.m., Saturday, in the Round of 16.
Nolet, who is valuable as a first basemen when not pitching for Fischetti's diamond squad, gave up his first earned run of the season in Saturday's 8-3 independent win over Dickinson when he gave up just two hits while strking out eight in 6 2/3 innings on the hill.
Nutley (8-5), the fifth seed with very good recent tourney success in terms of reaching the latter stages of the diamond event, has received strong outings from Nick Senatore (3-0), while veteran Sean Rodriguez (1-3) and John Lawton are among the other talented arms for coach Bob Harbison’s Maroon Raiders who host 12th-seeded Caldwell (3-11), 2 p.m., Saturday, in the opening round.
Livingston (4-6), the aforementioned seventh seed, is paced by Rhode Island-bound Mark Silvestri (2-0) and UMass-bound Tyler Zuppa, who has been the top two options on the hill for the Lancers, who will entertain a dangerous 10th-seeded West Essex (8-2) on Thursday afternoon at the Oval.
GNT 3rd Preliminary Round (to be completed by April 30)
Winner is #15 seed: Science Park at East Side
Winner is #16 seed: Bloomfield Tech at Cedar Grove
Round of 16: (Saturday, May 2, unless otherwise noted)
16 seed at 1-Seton Hall Prep, TBA
15 seed at 2-Millburn, TBA
14-MKA at 3-Bloomfield, 3 p.m.
13-West Orange at 4-Columbia, 3 p.m.
12-Caldwell at 5-Nutley, 2 p.m.
11-Verona at 6-Newark Academy, 2 p.m.
10-West Essex at 7-Livingston, 4 p.m., Thursday, April 30
9-Montclair at 8-Belleville, 7 p.m.
2015 Greater Newark Tournament:
Game Dates: Note: Prelims, first round and quarters all at higher seed
Preliminary Rounds “Play-In” Bracket: Games were played Thursday, April 23-Saturday, April 25 and the third prelim round contests must be completed on or before Thursday, April 30
First Round (Round of 16): completed by Saturday, May 2
Quarterfinals: Thursday, May 7 (TBA)
Semifinals: Saturday, May 9, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., at Verona’s Doc Goeltz Field
Final: Saturday, May 16, noon, at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark
GNT: Most Titles Won: (1933-2014)
14 Seton Hall Prep
3 East Side
*From 1933-72 GNT was a statewide tournament
GREATER NEWARK TOURNAMENT FINALS
2014: Seton Hall Prep 7 Cedar Grove 6
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Junior righty Van Berg is very capable hurler for ninth-seeded Montclair which will visit eighth-seeded Belleville in Saturday's (May 2) GNT Round of 16. (Photo by Wil Young)
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