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Many Contenders for 45th Annual Diamond Classic Championship

Many Contenders for 45th Annual Diamond Classic Championship
The field has been set for the 45th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, one of the best tournaments for any sport in South Jersey.
 
This single-elimination tournament matches 16 of the top teams in South Jersey. There are 10 teams that get in as automatic division leaders and six at-large teams.
 
The tournament begins on Saturday and is over by the following Sunday, May 20. The NJSIAA state tournament begins the next day, so the Diamond is a great tune-up. It also is one where teams must have deep pitching.
 
That’s because many teams might want to save their top pitchers for the state tournament, and often a No. 3 or No. 4 pitcher would have to throw in the Diamond Classic final.
 
Either way, this one is truly up for grabs, with no clear favorite, although Eastern, which entered the week ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Philadelphia Inquirer, certainly has the ability to take home the title.
 
Then again, more than half the teams in this tournament could make the same assertion.
Eastern won its first Diamond title in 2016
 
The first round is usually intense because in many instances, team will throw their No. 1 pitcher in those games.
 
The tournament begins Saturday with two games each at four sites, Washington Township, Maple Shade, Hammonton and Deptford.
 
St. Augustine is the defending champion and the Hermits again remain a viable threat.
The tournament is named for Joe Hartmann, the legendary former baseball coach at Eastern High who still runs the Diamond.
 
There will be many marquee performers, headed up by Seneca centerfielder Nick Decker, a University of Maryland commit who is a candidate to be selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Decker is not only among the most talented players in the state, but one of the more exciting, who can hit for power, has great speed and is an adept fielder. He is also a key pitcher for a Seneca team that is expected to make a serious run in the upcoming South Jersey Group 3 tournament.
 
The Diamond plays with speed-up rules, which really moves the games.
 
Here is the tournament schedule:

Saturday
At Maple Shade
West Deptford vs. Riverside, 10:30 a.m.
Ocean City vs. Bishop Eustace 1 p.m.

At Deptford
Gloucester Catholic vs. St. Augustine, 10:30 a.m.
Seneca vs. Gloucester, 1 p.m.

At Hammonton
Clearview vs. Gateway, 10:30 a.m.
Haddonfield vs. Eastern, 1 p.m.

At Washington Township
Washington Township vs. Bordentown, 10:30 a.m.
Shawnee vs. Holy Spirit, 1 p.m.

Saturday May 19, Quarterfinals
At Deptford and Washington Township
10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Sunday May 20, Semifinals
Deptford and Washington Township at 1 p.m.

Article continues below

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Finals at Eastern, 5 p.m.

 

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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