High school baseball playoffs are on the horizon

With the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son nearly upon us, here is a closer look at the state of some of the area’s top base­ball pro­grams on the eve of the post­season (re­cords through Monday):

Cath­ol­ic League

Fath­er Judge: 6-7, Cath­ol­ic Red

Des­pite a string of three straight re­cent losses to di­vi­sion op­pon­ents (two to La Salle, one to Ro­man Cath­ol­ic), head coach Tim Ginter’s young Cru­sader bunch has put to­geth­er a sol­id sea­son while play­ing an al­ways-un­for­giv­ing league sched­ule. Be­fore the three losses, Judge won five straight: one against Ro­man, two against St. Joe’s Prep and two more against Pub­lic League stal­warts Frank­lin Towne Charter and Phila. Academy Charter. Ju­ni­or Ry­an O’Neill has hit .404 with 16 runs scored, 14 RBI and a .533 on-base per­cent­age; he’s also 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA on the mound and will start the Cru­saders’ play­off open­er on Sat­urday. Judge fin­ishes up this week with a pair against Car­din­al O’Hara. 

Arch­bish­op Ry­an: 5-8, Cath­ol­ic Red

In his first sea­son as head coach, Gerry Eck’s Raid­ers have had a bit of an un­even slate, but have come around re­cently, win­ning four of their last six. They took two of three from Ro­man, split a series with O’Hara (8-5 di­vi­sion) and throttled non-league op­pon­ent Pope John Paul II 13-3 on April 26. Ry­an is led by seni­ors Bobby Ro­mano, Tom Der­er and Con­nor Golden. The Raid­ers can im­prove their di­vi­sion stand­ing head­ing in­to the play­off with two fi­nal con­tests on the sched­ule this week against the Prep (2-10, last place). 

Pub­lic League

Frank­lin Towne Charter (PI­AA Class AAA): 9-0-1, Pub­lic League Di­vi­sion A

With a home game against second-place George Wash­ing­ton re­main­ing on Fri­day, Towne can lock up the di­vi­sion’s top seed in the play­offs with a win over the Eagles, or a Wash­ing­ton loss earli­er in the week to Mas­ter­man. Towne, led by head coach Chris Lauber and cap­tains Steve Cal­la­han, Chris Ham­mer­stein and Bri­an Brad­ley, is look­ing to win its first Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship after fan­ning in the 2013 title game.

George Wash­ing­ton (Class AAAA): 7-1, Di­vi­sion A

Aside from a lone di­vi­sion blem­ish to Prep Charter on April 9, it’s been smooth sail­ing for Ken Geiser’s Eagles. Armed with a power­ful lineup full of fe­ro­cious bats and two ef­fect­ive start­ing pitch­ers (seni­or Ro­ger Han­son and sopho­more Ed­die Tingle), Wash­ing­ton be­lieves it has what it takes to go on a cham­pi­on­ship run. As ju­ni­or first base­man Ish­mael Bracy said, “What’s the point of play­ing if you’re not go­ing for the big one?” Wash­ing­ton fin­ishes up with two this week against Mas­ter­man and Frank­lin Towne, fol­lowed by one on Monday against Frank­ford.

Frank­ford (Class AAAA): 6-3, Di­vi­sion A

Des­pite not re­turn­ing a starter from last year’s team that won its third straight Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship game, head coach Juan Namnun’s team is in the hunt as al­ways. Armed with a pleth­ora of fresh­men and sopho­mores ooz­ing po­ten­tial, the Pi­on­eer pups have three games re­main­ing, one against a strug­gling pro­gram (Edis­on) and two against top dogs (Wash­ing­ton, PACS). One of those young­sters, Gio Bur­gos, has come in­to his own lately both on the mound and in the bat­ting or­der. 

Phil­adelphia Academy Charter (Class AA): 6-3, Di­vi­sion A

Des­pite a mid-sea­son slide that saw Jack Smith’s team lose four of five, the Char­gers still hope to enter the post­season with a wave of mo­mentum. Led by seni­or Eric Heisler, ju­ni­or An­thony Pick­ens and sopho­more Shane Mc­Groaty, PACS is look­ing to fin­ish strong with two of its fi­nal three games com­ing against los­ing teams (GAMP, North­east) in ad­di­tion to a show­down at Frank­ford.

Lin­coln (Class AAAA): 6-4, Di­vi­sion A

John Larsen’s Railsplit­ters are an­oth­er squad jock­ey­ing for prime play­off po­s­i­tion. At 6-4, Lin­coln fin­ishes up against North­east and GAMP, two teams at the bot­tom of the Di­vi­sion A stand­ings. The Railsplit­ters are paced by Justin Carlson, who does dam­age on the mound and in the middle of the lineup, as well as dy­nam­ic leadoff hit­ter Eric Cin­tron, who has 21 hits in 38 at-bats (.552 av­er­age) with a .789 on-base per­cent­age. 

Ed­it­or’s note: North­east (Class AAAA, 1-8 Di­vi­sion A), Swen­son (Class AAA, 6-3 Di­vi­sion B), Fels (Class AAAA, 3-7 Di­vi­sion B), Rush (Class A, 5-3 Di­vi­sion C), Ta­cony Charter (Class AA, 8-2 Di­vi­sion D) and New Found­a­tions (Class AAA, 7-2 Di­vi­sion D) are oth­er area schools still in play. The Pub­lic League’s play­off brack­et, in ac­cord­ance with the PI­AA, is de­signed to pro­duce a win­ner from each class (A, AA, AAA, AAAA). Teams are seeded by class be­fore di­vi­sion, with Class AAAA hav­ing the most post­season eli­gible teams; after these class brack­ets are played out, four teams are left re­main­ing (the top one from each class). Then, on May 23, the “Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons” matches the win­ners from Class A vs. AAAA in one semi­final, and Class AA vs. AAA in the oth­er. The win­ners of those two games will play for the league title on May 27. ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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