The first round of the Essex County Tournament finished pretty much as expected, with the top seeds advancing, except for No. 9 Caldwell defeating No. 8 West Orange on Saturday night.
The quarterfinals on May 11 will feature the following matchups.
No. 9 Caldwell at No. 1 Livingston.
No. 5 West Essex at No. 4 Bloomfield.
No. 7 Newark Academy at No. 2 Mount St. Dominic
No. 6 Cedar Grove at No. 3 Nutley
The times will be announced early this week, but the only night games eligible would be Bloomfield playing at Pulaski Park, like they did this evening in stopping Columbia and Nutley playing on an alternate field in town, which is unlikely, so expect afternoon contests for all four games.
There was a time, as recent as 2009, when the quarterfinals were played at one site, which was Pulaski Park. Fans could sit and watch all four games at one venue. But that made entirely too much sense, so ultimately it was disbanded.
I’ll have a lot more on the four games later this week, but on the surface, there’s plenty of tradition with the matchups. Caldwell and Livingston met in a thrilling quarter in 2011, which the Chiefs seemed to have wrapped up at Livingston only to see the Lancers rally back for a 4-3 victory with three runs in the last of the seventh. The two programs have had their share of great games in the ECT over the past 20 years and have combined for 14 championships. The Chiefs and Lancers also met in the 1990 and 1991 finals, with Caldwell winning both by 3-1 counts.
West Essex and Bloomfield played each other twice a season from 2010-2012 in the Super Essex Conference’s American Division before Bloomfield moved to the Liberty this season. The Knights also beat the Bengals in a ECT first round contest in 2009.
Mount St. Dominic and Newark Academy met in last year’s ECT semifinal at Ivy Hill Park. There, the Lions defeated the upstart Minutemen, 8-2. Newark Academy coach Sergio Rodriguez doesn’t want to hear any more talk about his team being a surprise and no doubt, MSD will be expecting a tough outing on their home field. Don’t forget, the Lions were upset in this round back in 2010 by a Liberty Division team in West Orange, something coach Lorenzo Sozio will be enforcing this week.
For a number of years, Nutley had hardly any luck with Cedar Grove, but that’s changed this season as the Raiders won both meetings in SEC play. More than a few coaches in the county have said Cedar Grove could be a real tough out. The Panthers’ starting pitcher, Gabby Castelli, pitched a shutout in the 2010 ECT championship game as a freshman.
The winner of Caldwell-Livingston will take on the West Essex-Bloomfield victor in a semifinal on May 17 at Ivy Hill Park while the Newark Academy-Mount St. Dominic winner faces the Cedar Grove-Nutley survivor, also on the 17th at Ivy Hill.
Won’t even say get your poporn ready, but then again, I just did.