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A Rewarding End of the Season for Eastern Baseball

A Rewarding End of the Season for Eastern Baseball

Eastern’s baseball team was clearly disappointed to lose in the second round of the NJSIAA baseball tournament. Yet the Vikings, who were the No. 1 seed, did the next best thing and won not one, but two championships to end the season on a positive note.

After a first round 12-2 win over Atlantic Tech, the top seeded Vikings lost to No. 9 seeded Shawnee 6-4. (Shawnee would eventually earn a spot in the final before losing to Jackson, 1-0).

After that loss, Eastern earned consecutive Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic wins over Clearview, 10-6 and Washington Township, 8-0. Eastern then beat Gloucester, 10-0, to win the Camden County Tournament championship.

Then the Vikings concluded a 25-6 season by beating St. Augustine, 4-1 in eight innings in the Diamond Classic championship.

The game, played at Eastern’s home field, was the Vikings second Diamond title in the last three years against a St. Augustine team that was playing in the South Jersey Non-Public A championship the next day.

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Without the state tournament to worry about, gave Eastern and advantage, but beating St. Augustine is never easy.

In fact it will be interesting how the season-ending South Jersey rankings end up. St. Augustine had been the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey.

The Hermits still very well may end there. Teams that advance far in the state tournament often are given a little bit of an edge.

As for Eastern, the Vikings had the misfortune of meeting a hot Shawnee team in the tournament. Eastern had beaten Shawnee twice in their two regular season meetings.

Then again, Eastern had lost two close regular season meetings to Washington Township before the 8-0 blanking in the Diamond Classic semifinal.

Eastern had to beat a St. Augustine team that had won 13 in a row, including a 12-11 South Jersey Non-Public A semifinal over Bishop Eustace.

In the championship game, Eastern’s Jesse Barbera pitched a two-hitter against a potent St. Augustine lineup.

Eastern had its own strong lineup,, led by centerfielder Jack Herman, one of the top players in South Jersey. Herman also was a key pitcher and was the winner in relief during Eastern's Diamond Classic win over Clearview.

The Vikings had so many prestige wins. Besides the two wins over Shawnee, Eastern beat Bishop Eustace (a top five team in South Jersey) and opened the Diamond Classic with a 3-1 win over eventual South Jersey Group 2 champion Haddonfield.

The Diamond Classic was supposed to end before the state tournament was to begin. Yet the original May 20 Diamond championship had to be changed several times due to inclement weather.

For Eastern, it allowed the Vikings to extend their season and show their character. Eastern failed to stay down after its state tournament loss and kept playing hard and finished with a truly rewarding run.

 

 

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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