WEST CALDWELL, NJ - The James Caldwell High School varsity baseball team will aim for a berth in the sectional championship game when the Chiefs host Whippany Park in the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Section 2, Group 2 state tournament Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The fourth-seeded Chiefs have defeated Harrison, 8-1, and Dover, 6-2, in the first two rounds of the tournament. Their semifinal opponent, ninth-seeded Whippany Park, dispatched top-seeded Science Park, 14-0, in the quarterfinals.
The champion of the Suburban Essex Conference Liberty Division, Caldwell (19-7) has thrived under first-year head coach Scott Illiano, who could call upon junior left-hander Evan Dyer to start against Whippany Park after Dyer (7-1) pitched a complete-game five-hitter to beat Harrison in the first round. Right-handed pitcher Bryce Bayard (7-2) also has excelled on the mound for the Chiefs this season, but he threw 108 pitches in beating Dover on Friday and is not eligible to pitch again until Wednesday.
Senior outfielder Mike Cavallo, who has four home runs and 41 runs batted in, leads Caldwell with a .464 batting average. Cavallo batted .476 last season. Junior catcher Jon DeMattheis, batting .403, paces Caldwell in RBI with 42. Regardless of Tuesday's outcome, the season has been a resounding success for Caldwell, which was 7-17 in 2016.