Whenever rankings are involved in any aspect, there will always be much debate. The seedings for the Region XIX Baseball Tournament could not avoid debate as the competition in the region had reached a level that many had not seen in recent years. The top 6 seeds, Cumberland, Rowan-Gloucester, Northampton, Brookdale, Camden, and Bergen could all make cases as to why they should have been seeded higher than they were. The next 4 seeds, Ocean County, Lehigh Carbon, Montgomery, and Delaware County all provided thrilling play-in games leading up to the 1st Round of the tournament. Their seeding certainly does not tell the whole story as they competed at a very high level throughout the season and scored significant victories.
However, after much debate, the top 4 seeds moved on as Cumberland, Rowan-Gloucester, Northampton, and Brookdale will face off in the Region XIX Final Four for the third consecutive season. Here is how Cumberland matched with the 3 other participants during the regular season.
The Roadrunners of RCGC and the Dukes are familiar foes in this setting as they have faced each other 4 years in a row, 3 of them being in the Championship Game. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, these teams met in the Championship game and three times went to the "if" game. Cumberland won the title in 2014 and RCGC won in 2015 and 2016. The teams did battle once again in 2017 in the Loser's Bracket Final with Cumberland coming out on top and eventually winning the Championship, defeating Northampton twice in the Championship round.
This season, RCGC won the season series winning two out of three. In a home doubleheader, the Dukes split the day losing Game 1, 4-1, and winning Game 2, 3-2. Both games were hotly contested ball games as 1st inning runs and 6th/7th inning runs were the difference. At RCGC, the game had originally been halted due to poor weather with RCGC leading 3-2. Upon resuming the game in the 6th inning, Cumberland took a 1 run lead, but RCGC was able to retake a lead they would not relinquish.
Should these two teams meet, it will surely be another classic in the "Rivalry on Route 55". RCGC entered the Tournament as the #1 seed and will open play against Brookdale.
The season series between Cumberland and Brookdale was an odd one as both teams dropped games in which double-digit runs were given up. Considering the history of both programs and the talent, the scores of 12-6 victory by Brookdale and 15-2 victory by Cumberland were surprising to all in Region 19. The rubber match between the two teams proved a little more true as Brookdale took the series with a 4-1 victory in a pitcher's duel between Cumberland's Steve Bowley and Brookdale's Jordan Winston. Look for both pitchers to make major impacts in the Final Four.
Cumberland and Brookdale have faced off in the Final Four in the past 3 years, with Cumberland holding a slim 3-2 record over the Jersey Blues in Final Four play. Brookdale is currently the #4 seed and will face RCGC in the opening game.
In a rematch of the 2017 Region XIX Championship Game, Cumberland's pitching held the Spartans in check as the staff would allow runs in just 3 total innings in a late April doubleheader. Anthony Capasso was masterful in Game 1, striking out 8 and allowing a single run in the 7th for an 8-1 victory. Brian Bromley followed that up with a gem by giving up just 3 runs, 2 in the 1st and 1 in the 6th, and striking out 8 for a 9-3 victory.
This will also be the third straight year that Cumberland will face Northampton in the Final Four. In 2016, Cumberland defeated Northampton in an elimination game after both teams lost their opening round games and in 2017, Cumberland defeated Northampton twice to claim the title. Back in 2013, Northampton came out on top in the 1st Round of the tournament winning 2 games to 1. This matchup has always been a fun one as both teams have always held classic battles over recent years. As the #3 seed, the Spartans will face Cumberland in the opening game of the Final Four.
The site of the Region XIX Final Four has yet to be determined as the Region Baseball Committee must manuever its way through some tough weather forecasts. As per the Region XIX website, the tournament is scheduled to begin Friday and must end by Tuesday night. Please follow our twitter account, @GoCCCDukes, for the most up to date news on the tournament.