The Nor-Am High School league has just 10 games left on its schedule, and while no team has clinched a playoff berth as yet, each division has its strong contenders for a slot.
Starting in the Independent Division 1, three teams are vying for the top spot, with Dallas Sports Academy Bats holding the advantage, even though they are tied for first with the New England Seminary Saints.
The Bats boast a lineup with hard-hitting offense like Ben Price (RF), who is batting .455 with 13 HR and 45 RBIs, and Will Mullet (DH/RF), batting a solid .345 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs. They boast the best starter’s ERA in their conference, led by RHP Randy Carlin at 2.25 (and who is striking out batters at a pace of 11.5/9IP).
The Saints, meanwhile, have been blessed with solid run production from youngsters like sophomore Freddie Carter (C), a switch-hitter batting .363 and tied for the team lead in home runs with 9, and senior Dewey Burbridge (1B), who is hitting .317 and has been charged with just one error this season.
Both teams are one game ahead of the Georgia Sports HS Blue Chips, a state-sponsored sports high school that excels at baseball and football. The Blue Chips are the top run production team in the Indy conference, scoring 255 runs so far this year, mainly from top-of-the-order guys like juniors Miguel Reyes (1B), hitting a searing .457 with 11 homers, 35 RBIs, and 31 runs scored, and Pete Raine (LF) who at .346 also has 8 homers and 33 runs. Freshman Martin Knickle (2B) may not be draft eligible this year, but he will be a hot commodity in two seasons when he is eligible, should he keep up his batting prowess. Knickle is hitting .369 currently.
Indy Conference Division 1 Favorite: Dallas Sports Academy Bats
In the Indy conference’s Division 2, things are more squared away with the Niagara Academy Fighters primed to take the playoff berth. Four games ahead of York Academy Devil Rays, they have a magic number of 7, and 10 games left to play. They have the best wins percentage in high school baseball (.781) and are virtually assured to get the 7 wins they need for a clinch, but they only need all 7 wins if York continues their winning streak, currently at 4 games.
The Fighters will be exceptionally strong in the playoffs, as not only are they leading the league in batting and OBP, their pitching is tight also. Once their starters hand the ball over to the bullpen, the team rests easy with the best bullpen ERA in high school, featuring future stars like senior RHP Alberto Martinez (3.94 ERA, 10 SV) in the closer role, and setup men LHP Ken Sabin (1.93 ERA) and sophomore RHP John Knowles (3-1, 3.48). They have solid starters as well, keeping their runs allowed very low. The Fighters also get solid run support nearly through the entire lineup, where eight of nine regulars are batting over .300, and six of the nine boast 20 or more RBIs.
Indy Conference Division 2 Favorite: Niagara Academy Fighters
Over in the International Conference, the Division 1 playoff berth has all but been decided, with the Guadalupe HS Slashers the clear leader. As with the Indy Conference’s Niagara Academy team, the Slashers are in a great position in their division, four games ahead of their nearest follower, Ecatapec HS Coyotes, with a magic number of 7 as well.
Slashers pitching has been lethal to the Inter conference bats, with RHP Jean-François Rougier particularly noteworthy. The senior from Montreal, Quebec, has gone 5-1 this season with an ERA of just 2.16. In fact, after giving up just one run in his debut on March 3, Rougier allowed no runs at all in his next three appearances, before finally allowing one more on March 28. He faltered in his last start against Port Royal College on April 2 when he was tagged for 8 earned runs in 5.2 innings, and was awarded his first loss. But overall, he’s having a stellar year and was an easy choice for the Pitcher of the Month award for March.
Offense has been provided for the Slashers mainly from Chris Aguirre (CF), a freshman from Mexico City currently leading the team’s hitting with a .377 average, as well as topping the team home run chart in a tie with Jim Dudley (1B) with 8 each. Brian Gibbons (LF), a senior from Cleveland, Ohio, has been solid as well, batting .341 so far with 6 home runs, 32 RBIs and a handful of stolen bases.
Inter conference Division 1 favorite: Guadalupe HS Slashers
In Inter’s Division 2, the race for first is tight, with Anguilla Prep School Oceans and Dutch Colonial Academy Gunners in a dead heat, both with 22-10 records, two games ahead of Port Royal College Colonials of Jamaica.
The Oceans are the favorite, but only by a small margin, and have the best bullpen in the International conference, and are a top run producer, but suffer from poor fielding. Their top guy on the mound is RHP Lane Boyar, a senior from Quebec who is undefeated this season with a 4-0 record and a 1.67 ERA. In the pen they have Miguel Zuniga, a sophomore from Alaska who shuts down rallies and paints the corners with his fastball, earning 16 K’s through 11.2 IP so far this season, and notching 5 saves in the process.
The Gunners, for their part, have scored the most runs in the Inter conference, with three regulars in the lineup in particular combining for 80 of the team’s 290 runs. Tony Attwood (CF) has been in the leadoff slot, and besides scoring 33 times he has also managed 30 RBIs, and walks twice as often as he strikes out, displaying a maturity and patience normally seen in much higher level players. Alex Ruiz (3B) resides in the cleanup spot and so far has been a soft hitter, but has managed 28 runs thanks to also having patience at the plate, earning a .404 OBP. Finally, Jim Bertrand (SS) has 29 runs, despite struggling with his swing, only managing a .264 average.
Inter conference Division 2 favorite: Anguilla Prep School Oceans