1. Pope John (21-4-1) -- Lions went 3-1 last week, including a 13-4 win over Montville on Tuesday in the battle for for the NJAC American Division title. PJ followed that up with a 5-3 win at No. 10 High Point in another division showdown as winning pitcher Mike Liegel (5-1) struck out eight. Coach Vin Bello's team must replay a suspended game against No. 5 Sparta and win to capture at least a share of the American title. Montville travels to High Point on Wednesday. But first, PJ gets underway in state playoff action this week.
Up next: Tuesday at home against St. Peter's Prep in North A playoffs.
2. Voorhees (17-3) -- Vikings went 3-1 last week, including wins over Shore (13-3 on Monday) and North Plainfield (5-3 on Friday) in the Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs. Ace pitcher Sean Keselica (9-1) struck out 11 in the win over North Plainfield and went 4-for-6 with a double, homer and six RBIs at the plate in the two state victories. The Virginia Tech-bound lefty also homered in the Vikes' surprising 12-5 loss to Pingry. Trey Conroy (4-1) earned the win against Shore. Coach Spark Mattson's club, which also beat No. 6 Warren Hills, 3-2, on Tuesday in a key Skyland Conference Raritan Division matchup, can clinch the title with a Somerville loss to Pingry on Wednesday or a win over Somerville on Thursday .
Up next: Tuesday at home against Middlesex in Central, Group 2 semifinals; Thursday at Somerville.
3. Hunterdon Central (20-7) -- Red Devils enjoyed a 4-1 week with wins over Bridgewater-Raritan (4-3 on Monday) and Ridge (5-3 on Friday) in the North 2, Group 4 playoffs after going one-and-done last year following back-to-back Group 4 titles. Pitcher Greg Scassera (7-1) picked up victories in both state games. Coach Mike Raymond's club also split with those teams, beating Bridgewater-Raritan and losing to Ridge, in regular season matchups last week.
Up next: Tuesday at Westfield in North 2, Group 4 semifinals; Wednesday at Ridge.
4. Hackettstown (19-1) -- Tigers posted a pair of wins in the North 2, Group 2 playoffs -- 9-1 over Cliffside Park on Monday and 12-2 over Garfield on Friday. Justin Knight (6-0) struck out seven and got the win against Cliffside Park and ace Matt Reynolds (6-1) fanned six to beat Garfield. Catcher Mark Feci was a combined 6-for-8 with two doubles, a homer and seven RBIs in those wins. The Tigers also beat Hopatcong, 18-8, on Thursday for the third time this season and sixth in a row dating to 2010.
Up next: Tuesday at home against Madison in North 2, Group 2 quarterfinals; Wednesday at Warren Hills.
5. Sparta (14-10-1) -- Spartans went 1-2 last week, beating Old Tappan, 10-5, in the North 1, Group 3 opener and falling 5-4 to Montville in the quarterfinals. Coach Sam Slobodzian's team also fell, 2-1, to Morris Hills in an NJAC American Division contest. Devon Livingston had a double, homer and three RBIs in the win on Monday. Spartans must complete their suspended game against No. 1 Pope John at a date to be determined and there's nothing the crosstown rivals would like more than to spoil the Lions' division title hopes.
Up next: at home against Pope John, TBA.
6. Warren Hills (12-11) -- Blue Streaks had a rough week, going 0-3, including a 5-1 loss to Belleville in the North 2, Group 3 playoff opener. Coach Mike Quinto's team closed the week, and possibly the season, with losses to No. 2 Voorhees (3-2 on Tuesday) and North Plainfield (4-2 on Thursday). Mark Apgar struck out eight, but took the loss against Voorhees and had a double and an RBI in the loss to North Plainfield.
Up next: Wednesday at home against Hackettstown.
7. North Hunterdon (10-12) -- Lions went 2-1 last week, beating Bayonne, 4-2, in Monday's North 2, Group 4 playoff opener and Bridgewater-Raritan, 14-3, on Tuesday, before ending on a sour note with Friday's 6-3 loss at Woodbridge in the state quarterfinals. Steve Bloodworth (6-1) got the complete-game win over Bayonne, while Derek Jenkins went 2-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBIs against Bridgewater-Raritan. Lions coach Parker Snare, who stands at 498 career wins, has three shots this week to reach the coveted 500 mark.
Up next: Tuesday at Phillipsburg; Wednesday at West Morris; Thursday at home against Montgomery.
8. Phillipsburg (11-12) -- Stateliners went 1-2 last week, beating East Orange, 15-0, in the North 2, Group 4 playoffs before losses to Immaculata (6-3 on Thursday) and Westfield (5-4 in the state quarterfinals). Coach Dave Hinkle's team, the No. 10 seed, nearly pulled off the upset of No. 2 seeded Westfield, which scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to win. .
Up next: Tuesday at home against North Hunterdon; at home against Bridgewater-Raritan; Thursday at Hillsborough.
9. North Warren (14-8) – Patriots went .500 last week, beating River Dell, 11-10, in the North 1, Group 2 playoffs, as winning pitcher Nick Macaione (6-1) struck out eight and belted a pair of doubles. Kevin Kelly added a three-run homer for the Patriots, who lost to Dumont, 8-2, in the quarterfinals on Friday. In between, coach Jim Haupt's club lost to Bound Brook, 5-4, and beat Manville, 15-0, to gain at least a share of the Skyland Conference Valley Division title with one game remaining against Bernards.
Up next: at home against Bernards, TBA.
10. High Point (13-9) – Wildcats went 1-2 last week, beating Indian Hills, 4-3, on Monday in the North 1, Group 3 playoffs, before an 8-2 loss to Paramus ended their state run in Friday's quarterfinals. Coach Mickey Thomas' club can help Sussex County rival Pope John with a second win over Montville this week.
Up next: Wednesday at home against Montville.