CHATHAM, NJ -  Chatham's 6-0 baseball regular-season loss to Montville at home on Wednesday only put more emphasis on how important the state tournament will be for the 2017 Cougars.

Chatham (15-5) is expected to be the top seed in its section of the NJSIAA tournament when the official brackets are announced on Thursday.

“It feels good,” Chatham senior captain Sam Blanchard said of the team’s comeback season after a stretch of difficult years. “But we still have work to do. If we don’t win states, then we get nothing on the banner. It’s as if the year doesn’t mean anything, so we still have work to do.

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"Hopefully we bring home a state championship.”

The Cougars struggled in their conference game against Montville pitcher Matt Bettio at Chatham High. Senior Sam Browning's single in the fourth inning was Chatham's only hit of the game against Bettio compared to the 11 banged out by Montville. Bettio struck out six and walked one.

“We can’t lose a game from now on in our conference,” Chatham senior captain Chris Delsandro said. “We’re behind Delbarton, so every game counts from here on out.”

The Cougars are expected to be matched up with West Windsor-Plainsboro in the opening round of the NJSIAA Group 3 state tournament set for Monday at home.