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Group 3 Semifinal Preview: PV vs Cranford

Indians' road to Group 3 title begins today

PV+will+take+on+Cranford+on+Tuesday+in+the+Group+3+Semifinal+Game+at+William+Paterson+University.
PV will take on Cranford on Tuesday in the Group 3 Semifinal Game at William Paterson University.

PV will take on Cranford on Tuesday in the Group 3 Semifinal Game at William Paterson University.

Josh DeLuca

Josh DeLuca

PV will take on Cranford on Tuesday in the Group 3 Semifinal Game at William Paterson University.

Noah Schwartz, Sports Editor

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What: Group 3 Semifinals

Who: Pascack Valley (22-4) vs. Cranford (20-7)

When: Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.

Location: William Paterson University

Pascack Valley Perspective:

Pascack Valley is coming off of a decisive 14-4 win against Morris Hills for the North 1 Group 3 sectional title—the program’s first sectional title in 51 years. The Indians are winners of four straight, and have relied on clutch hitting and pitching to reach this point, and will look to continue that against North 2 Group 3 champs Cranford. In the win against Morris Hills, Carson Weis and Jack Devanna had strong games where they both hit home runs, and Weis had seven runs batted in. Both of these players, along with OF Frank Cascio and SP Riley Weis will be crucial against the Cougars. These four will likely do major damage in the heart of the lineup and give PV a major boost offensively. Pascack Valley will need the other members of their lineup, including Austin Piorkowski, Alex DeRosa, Justin Martin, Rick Lutz, and Alex Criscuolo to play well if Valley wants to advance. Senior Riley Weis (9-1), who is coming off a strong outing against Roxbury last week where he threw 6 innings and allowed 2 runs, will get the ball for the Indians. As usual, Nick Verost will be counted on at the end of the game, and will likely finish the game if Valley has a lead. PV will look to continue its strong play at William Paterson University, and attempt to advance to the Group 3 championship game.

How They Got Here:

PV has had a historic season so far and will try to advance to the Group 3 title game for the first time ever. PV took care of business in the sectional tournament and hope that their recent run of success can continue against Cranford. In the opening round, No. 1 seed PV routed Nutley 8-0, behind Riley Weis, who dominated. In the quarterfinals, PV took on No. 9 Northern Highlands and defeated them 5-1 with Jordan Issakedes leading the way with 6 terrific innings. Weis pitched again in the semifinal game against No. 5 Roxbury and although the game was tightly contested, Valley escaped with a 3-2 victory. And lastly, in the sectional final on Friday against No. 7 Morris Hills, PV clobbered the Knights 14-4 in 6 innings, as the mercy rule ended the game early. Carson Weis hit a grand slam and drove in 7 runs, and Devanna hit a screaming line drive over the center field fence in the 4th. Issackedes pitched a complete game, and other than a 4th inning in which he gave up three runs, Issackedes was able to hold the Scarlet Knights in check.

 

Cranford Perspective:

The Cranford Cougars, currently on an 8 game winning streak, come into the semifinal game scorching hot. They have dominated their opponents of late, winning their last 4 regular season games as well as the 4 games during the sectional tournament. They have done a great job of blowing out the competition as well, as three of their recent victories have been by 6 or more runs. In order to beat a tough PV squad, the Cougars will need to continue to swing the bats well, as they are averaging nearly 8 runs per game during the win streak. To do so, Cranford will need players like Tom Armstrong, Ryan Bakie, and Brian Oblachinski to continue their hot streaks against Weis and the Valley pitching staff. Other Cougar players, including Patrick Connelly James Shriner and Michael Meola will be counted on as well. On the mound for Cranford will be Gordon Graceffo, the Cougar ace, who has put up very respectable numbers in his most recent outings. In his last start against Chatham, he threw 6 innings allowing only 3 runs. The Cougars also have a strong bullpen that they will rely upon, with Kevin Donovan and Jack McAleavey being their most reliable arms.  

How They Got Here:

Cranford made it to this game by winning the North 2 Group 3 sectional title. They were the third seed in the tournament and won 4 straight games in order to face PV. In their opening game against No.14 Iselin Kennedy, they won 10-0 and the game ended early from the mercy rule. Armstrong and Meola had 3 RBI’s each, and Graceffo pitched 6 shutout innings. In their quarterfinal matchup with No. 11 Ferris, the Cougars won a tight game 5-4 in 10 innings. Bakie came through in the clutch with a walkoff single and Donovan pitched 3 innings of shutout relief in extra innings. After that, the Cougars defeated No. 15 Red Bank Regional 7-1 in their semifinal game. Oblachinski went 4 for 4 and hit a homerun to lead the offense, while Graceffo and McAleavey combined to give up just one run and 5 hits. In the championship game, Cranford upset No. 1 seed Chatham in a dramatic 5-3 win. The Cougars did most of their damage in a 4-run third inning, and Graceffo and Donovan kept the Chatham hitters relatively quiet the whole game.

Here is the full 2017 NJSIAA Group 3 Bracket.  The winner of this game will move on to face the winner of Highland and Allentown on Saturday in Toms River at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m.

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Group 3 Semifinal Preview: PV vs Cranford