All along, Cassel said his goal was to have his team and his ace pitcher fresh for the state tournament. It couldn't have been easy to be so cautious with regular-season games on the line, with the Olympic Conference National Division at stake, with a berth in the Diamond Classic in the balance.
With Comer barely a factor, Seneca went 9-6 through May 20. The Golden Eagles didn't win the division. They didn't make the Diamond Classic.
But the state tournament was another story. With Comer healthy and pitching in all six games, the Golden Eagles surged from No. 8 seed in the sectional tournament to capture the second state title in the history of the program with a 12-3 victory over Paramus on Saturday in the Group 3 state championship game.
"This is exactly what we hoped would happen," said Comer, who was the 57th overall pick in last week's draft, by the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the state tournament, Comer threw 291/3 innings. He allowed three runs. He went 5-0.
With Comer on the hill, Seneca took its offense to another level. The Golden Eagles scored 52 runs in their final four tournament games.
Senior shortstop Ryan Williams led the way. Williams had an extra-base hit in each of the final five tournament games. He went 3 for 4 with two homers against Central Regional, rapped four hits with two doubles and a homer against Moorestown, and collected three hits with another double against Paramus.
A career to remember. Gloucester Catholic's Cody Brown pitched a no-hitter in the South Jersey final and a two-hitter in the state final to finish his senior season with a 12-0 record.
Brown also set the Gloucester Catholic record for career victories with 25.
"An awesome competitor," Gloucester Catholic coach Dennis Barth said of Brown after the Rams' 14-2 win over Newark Academy in the Non-Public B state title game on Saturday. "He wants the ball with the game on the line."
Perfect day. Ask a hitter to describe a perfect day, and he might say, "4 for 4."
That's what South Jersey teams did in Saturday's state finals for the first time since the NJSIAA started state championship play in 1971.
Audubon won Group 1. Seneca won Group 3. Gloucester Catholic won Non-Public B and St. Augustine won Non-Public A.
South Jersey had gone 3 for 3 in state finals in 2007, 2003, 1991, 1989 and 1985 but never 4 for 4.
More South Jersey power. Gloucester Catholic won its 15th state title, by far more than any other program in New Jersey.
But South Jersey teams also rank second and third on that list. Bishop Eustace is second with eight state titles, while Audubon now is tied for third with Hamilton East and Seton Hall Prep with seven state titles.
"At Audubon, we look for kids to step up in the state tournament," said Audubon coach Rich Horan, who has led the Green Wave to six of their state championships.
Wrong sport, funny cheer. Waldwick's large student section was razzing Audubon senior shortstop Brian Flacco during the Group 1 state championship game.
Flacco's older brother, Joe, is the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, whose fiercest rival is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So when Brian Flacco would come to the plate, Waldwick's students would chant, "Let's go Steelers."
Flacco reached base three times, scored a run and snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run single.
"I hear it all the time," Flacco said after Audubon's 8-6 victory.
Special seniors. Holy Cross coach Steve Paolini said his senior class was special.
The group, led by catcher Mark Zagunis as well as pitcher-first baseman Jeff Singer, led the Lancers to a 21-4 record this season.
Holy Cross played some of its best baseball in the state tournament, beating second-seeded St. Rose in the sectional semifinals and losing by a 3-0 score to top-ranked Gloucester Catholic in a well-played Non-Public South B title game.
"When a group like this gets finished, as a coach you just hope they learned as much from you as you learned from them," Paolini said.
End of an era. Washington Township assistant Bob Gorski, who coached for 25 seasons, has resigned.
"Bob is an unbelievable baseball coach. For me, he was like having another head coach in the dugout and at practice," Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. "He always paid attention to detail and made sure our players were doing things the right way. He really cared about the kids and the program and will always be a part of the Minutemen baseball family."
The WTHS Grand Slam Club, the baseball booster organization, presented Gorski with a diamond-shaped plaque after the final game of the season. Many of Gorski's former players attended the game.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223,
or PhilAnastasia on Twitter.