Morris County Tournament

2024 Morris County Semifinals Preview: A Memorable Saturday Awaits

The Morris County Baseball Semifinals are set to take place on Saturday at Delbarton High School. Only four teams remain as the top three seeds: Morris Knolls, Delbarton, and Randolph with Cinderella Story Chatham making a run as the 12-seed. Let’s take a look into how all four were able to advance and preview both matchups.

Morris County Baseball Tournament

Photo by Mark Tegethoff 

3 Randlph vs 2 Delbarton

How they got there:

Delbarton: The Quarterfinals were two different stories for these schools. Delbarton’s offense has them riding the “Green Wave” all the way to the semis after a 5-inning 16-4 route of 7-seeded Montville. Matt Tafuri and Sal Garcia had four RBIs each, while starter Aiden Dill went four innings with six strikeouts.

Randolph: The Rams faced a tough challenge from West Morris and Nick Rotundo last Saturday. Despite struggling to convert hits into runs, they emerged victorious. Rams starter Tommy Martin was the hero of the day, delivering a stellar performance on the mound. He went eight innings, allowing only one earned run on two hits and striking out eight. Martin also played a key role in Randolph's three runs, contributing to their hard-fought win. 

Familiar Opponents:

These teams have already faced each other twice this year, splitting both games with home wins. 

James Kleiven and Randolph knocked around the Green Wave in their first meeting, taking that game 9-5. Rocco Albano drove in three runs while Kleiven went 4.2 en route to the win. 

This past Monday, the second contest was a pitcher’s duel between Ryan Holman and Rocco Albano. Holman and Delbarton got then 2-1 win after the Junior tossed five innings, allowing only two hits and no earned runs. 

Final Thoughts:

This game could have easily been an MCT Finals matchup, with the top three teams in the county having incredible years. The Rams should have Martin and Kleiven available, and if they can keep the Green Wave offense in check, they will need to jump on Delbarton’s top-tier pitching staff.

For the Green Wave, we could see a combo of Aiden Dill, Christian Zebrowski and AJ Saccento, all of whom are having dominant seasons.

12 Chatham vs. 1 Morris Knolls

 Unlike the day's first game, these two teams have met in almost 10 years. The last time Morris Knolls and Chatham took the same field in 2015, the current players were still in elementary school. While it has been a different journey for both teams this season, they are each one win away from heading to Montville next Thursday.

How they got there:

Morris Knolls: After a scare in the first round to Parsippany, the Golden Eagles took care of business in the County Quarterfinals against 9th-ranked Pequannock. Joe O’Toole pitched seven innings, allowing only one earned run as well as going 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. 

Luke Dickerson got the scoring started in the bottom of the 1st, belting his 9th home run of the year. The UVA commit added two more long balls in Thursday’s 8-1 route against Sparta, pushing his total to 11 on the year.

Chatham: The Cougars' run to the County Semifinal is something out of a sports movie. Chatham gave up a 3-run lead in the bottom of the 7th inning to Mendham, who had the go-ahead runner on third, but Sophmore Cayden Gabriele came up with a huge strikeout, forcing the game to head into extra innings. 

Chatham retook the lead in the 8th after Justin Regno’s go-ahead RBI double to deep left. A fired-up Regno trotted into 2nd, turned to his teammates, and let out a huge roar, knowing they had taken both the lead and momentum back. After tacking on another run, the Cougars were once again three outs away from advancing.

Will Linn retired the first batter he faced, but the Minutemen would not go quietly into the night. Sally Dunn laced a standup triple forcing Todd Leathers to bring in Justin Zigon to try and close this one out. Brendan Brunnock quickly singled to cut the Chatham lead down to one run. 

Tommy Blackwell drew a walk, putting the tying run in scoring position with the heart of the order coming to the plate. Zignon got Will Warman to ground into a game-ending double play to send Chatham to the County Semifinals.

Final Thoughts:

You have to look at Knolls as the favorite going into Saturday afternoon's county game. They are the top-ranked team in the county for a reason; however, I do not think that Chatham will come into the game intimidated. 

It’s been one heck of a ride for the Cougars, and their bats can come alive at any moment. They will need Trent Jenks to be on his game and either go the distance or get close to it in order to defeat the high-powered Knolls offense. 

Looks for Morris Knolls to have either O’Toole or James Kahn on the mound Saturday afternoon. 

The fun starts tomorrow at 11 in the morning with Randolph and Delbarton, immediately followed by Morris Knolls and Chatham. Come Saturday night, we will have our matchup for the long-awaited MCT Finals.

Be sure to check out for all NJ County Tournament updates.

County Tournament

Photo by Mick Haupt 

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