SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ — Members of the South Brunswick High School baseball program who were denied their chance to play the 2020 spring season due to the statewide coronavirus shutdown of schools will get their chance to play as a team in July.
The Last Dance Baseball Tournament will involve 222 teams--including South Brunswick--from all over New Jersey participating in a three-week competition that will begin with three days of pool play followed by two weeks' worth of bracket-style playoffs. Every team will be guaranteed at least three games during the pool play portion, which would begin July 14.
South Brunswick had 10 senior baseball players on the spring roster. The Vikings received the top seed in the North Brunswick Regional Bracket, and will play the STA Trojans (St. Thomas Aquinas) in the first pool-play game Tuesday, July 14 at North Brunswick Community Park at a time to be announced.
Baseball players who just graduated from South Brunswick are Matt Storch, Kyle Gruver, Jay Chaddah, Alex Strange, Matthew Siva-Harrison, Tej Ramaiah, Kyle Fisher, Dom Servedio, Drew von Bargen and Gio DeLuca.
As something that is taking place out of season, the tournament is not an NJSIAA event. It is being organized by Mike Murray Jr., the head baseball coach at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, with help from Millburn coach Brian Chapman and an area baseball scout, J.T. Kroeger. It is considered a high school summer tournament, not a club tournament, and teams will play under National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules.
According to a series of reopening directives from Governor Phil Murphy, baseball practices were allowed to begin on June 22, and games will be permitted beginning July 6. On June 22, the maximum size of outdoor gatherings was increased from 100 to 250 people, and that figure is slated to expand to 500 people by July 6.
No coaches affiliated with their spring high school programs will be allowed to work with their teams prior to July 13, according to the NJSIAA calendar of when spring ends and summer begins, and some head coaches will be turning the reins over to someone else unaffiliated with their high school programs to run the teams during the tournament.
"With everthing going on now, our guys are chomping at the bit to get on the field and be around each other again," South Brunswick head coach CJ Hendricks said last month.
The other two teams in the pool-play region with South Brunswick are Old Bridge and North Brunswick. South Brunswick lost to Old Bridge in the 2019 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship game.