Egg Harbor Township, one of the hottest high school baseball teams in South Jersey, kicks off this year’s prestigious Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic by hosting West Deptford on Tuesday afternoon at 4:00.

It’s just the third time in the 47-year history of the tournament that annually crowns South Jersey’s unofficial champion.

The Eagles are 11-0 this season and have beaten some pretty good ballclubs, scoring a 5-4 win over Shawnee, a 2-1 victory on the road at Ocean City, and another big win, 6-3, on the road at Brick Memorial. EHT also is coming off a 2-1 win over a tough Vineland squad on Friday. Senior Dave Appolonia has been swinging a hot bat with four home runs, 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored, while fellow seniors Ethan Dodd and Frank Wright have combined for three homers, 23 hits and 21 RBIs. The Eagles also have five pitchers with double-digit strikeouts, as the team has combined for 97 strikeouts in just 68 innings while giving up a paltry 18 earned runs.

The Diamond Classic features 16 teams, with Bishop Eustace and Major League Baseball pitching prospect Anthony Solometo garnering the top seed. Two teams from South Jersey’s five conference get automatic bids and then the tournament committee selects the six at-large bids. The Cape-Atlantic League has four representatives in EHT, the No. 4 seed, third-seeded Mainland Regional, No. 2 St. Augustine Prep and No. 10 Ocean City. Ocean City travels to No. 7 Williamstown on Thursday, the Hermits host 15th-seeded Paulsboro, and Mainland hosts No. 14 Cherry Hill West.

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Mainland suffered its first loss on Monday when Holy Spirit knocked off the Mustangs 2-1, handing another MLB prospect, right-handed senior Chase Petty, his first loss.

Bishop Eustace will face No. 16 Maple Shade, and the other first-round matchups on Thursday include No. 9 Kingsway at No. 8 Northern Burlington; No. 12 Eastern at No. 5 Gloucester Catholic and No. 11 Delran at No. 6 Cherokee.

St. Augustine Prep is every bit as hot as EHT, as the Hermits have just one loss this season and that came last week against post-graduate Hun School. The Hermits are 8-0 against CAL opponents and 6-0 in the CAL United, and have some big non-conference wins against the likes of Jackson Memorial, Paul VI, Old Bridge and Kingsway. Junior infielder Ryan Taylor has 17 hits, 15 runs scored and eight RBIs while fellow junior Kyle Neri is hitting nearly .500 with 13 runs and 10 RBIs. Senior Jackson Vanesko has 11 hits and 17 RBIs and also has been getting it done on the hill with just six earned runs allowed in 22 innings while striking out 34.

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