District play gets underway today
When the 2018 New Jersey American Legion baseball district tournaments begin Saturday, they will be a noticeably different.
With numbers down throughout parts of the state, the tournaments were trimmed from eight teams in each district to four. That means each district will take five games (instead of 13) and three days (instead of four) to complete.
Two teams from each of the four districts will still advance to the State Final 8 at Ewing’s Fred Walters Field in Frank Moody Park July 21-26.
An important note is that all Legion postseason games will now be seven innings long with a 10-run rule possible after five innings. That should help teams move games along and save pitching.
Here in Mercer County, where Legion ball still thrives, another change is that the Mercer County American Legion League will host two of the district tournaments — one at Bob DeMeo Field in Hamilton’s Veterans Park and one at Gilder Park in Bordentown.
As the biggest league in the state, the MCALL has seven of the 16 representatives in district play, giving hope for a fine finish like last summer when the league had three of the final four teams playing for the state title.
Hopewell Post 339 (22-8), which earned its third outright MCALL crown this summer after winning states and advancing to the American Legion World Series last summer, will take part in the District 3 Tournament at Gilder Park. Manager Mike Coryell’s team will face Hillsborough around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Broad Street Park Post 313 (18-7), which finished a game behind Hopewell in the MCALL race, will open play at DeMeo (District 2) when manager Mike Petrowski’s squad plays Paterson at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Hamilton Post 31 (15-9), the third-place finisher, will also play at Veterans Park as manager Rick Freeman’s club squares off with North Warren Post 258 around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Lawrence Post 414 (13-9) and Bordentown Post 26 (14-10) will go south to District 4 at Camden County College in Blackwood.
Manager Jason Zegarski’s Post 414 team will take on the tough task of playing Brooklawn Post 72 at 11 a.m. Then manager Tom Dolan’s Post 26 boys will play equally tough Washington Township Post 521 at approximately 1:30 p.m.
South Brunswick Post 401 (13-9) and Allentown (12-10) will head north to Passaic’s Boverini Stadium.
Manager Justin Ely’s A’town players will meet Rochelle Park Post 170 at 11 a.m. before manager Monty Forthun’s Post 401 squad takes on Whitehouse Station Post 284 (formerly Flemington Post 159) at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Saturday’s losing teams will play the early game Sunday with Saturday’s winners playing the second game Sunday.
The winners of Sunday’s second game automatically advance to the Final 8.
The teams with one loss after Sunday will play Monday to determine the district’s secondplace team.
N.J. American Legion Baseball
Hopewell Post 339 begins the defense of its state American Legion title on Saturday with a game against Hillsborough at Gilder Park.