"These are seniors who are living for these last moments of their career," West said. "They've done so much for us. They deserve this opportunity."
West likes to joke with Colon (who does have a playoff beard) and Lopez (who is on the skinny side) about their appearances. But the coach said his seniors have set the tone for a highly regarded Group 2 program that has been among the best in South Jersey the last two seasons.
In 2011, the Chiefs were surprise winners of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic. This season, the Chiefs have captured a sectional title and have their sights set on a state crown.
"We've been through a lot and we try to set an example for the younger guys," Colon said.
Colon, a lefthanded-hitting catcher who has signed with Maryland-Baltimore County, is batting .361 with five home runs and 27 RBIs. He has walked 32 times.
West said Colon's defense behind the plate has been a key to the Chiefs' success.
"He shuts down the [opponent's] running game," West said.
Lopez, a shortstop/pitcher, leads the Chiefs in hitting with a .452 average. He has 20 extra-base hits (nine doubles, six triples, five homers) and 32 RBIs. He also is 14 for 14 in steals.
"I ask him to do so much, and he always answers the door," West said of Lopez, who is undecided about college.
Lopez prefers shortstop to working on the mound. But he is 5-2 as a pitcher with a 2.24 ERA.
"He'll tell me, 'Coach, you know I hate to pitch, right?' " West said. "But he does anything for the team. That's an example of why this team is successful. We have guys who realize it's not about them, it's about the team."
West knows this is the last week for his special seniors. But he also knows they are determined to take it all the way to Saturday and the Group 2 state championship game.
"They are enjoying these moments," West said. "That's the key in playoff baseball. They know they are seniors and this is it for them. But they are making the most of it."
Baseball's Super Tuesday
All games at 4 p.m.
NON-PUBLIC SOUTH A FINAL
No. 11 St. Augustine Prep (19-9) vs. No. 5 Gloucester Catholic (26-4)
Where: Rowan University, Glassboro.
Road to the final: St. Augustine Prep beat St. Rose (3-1), Red Bank Catholic (9-1), and Christian Brothers (8-1); Gloucester Catholic beat Holy Spirit (7-1), Holy Cross (12-5), and Bishop Eustace (4-0).
St. Augustine player to watch: Righthander Kevin Baxter is 9-1 with a 1.08 ERA.
Gloucester Catholic player to watch: Second baseman Pat Kane is batting .393 and is 34 for 34 in steals.
Side note: Both teams are defending state champions; the Hermits in N-P A, the Rams in N-P B.
NON-PUBLIC SOUTH B FINAL
No. 2 Sacred Heart (17-8) vs. No. 1 Marist (22-5)
Where: Overbrook High School, Pine Hill.
Road to the final: Sacred Heart beat Wardlaw-Hartridge (10-9) and Moorestown Friends (10-1); Marist beat St. Joseph of Hammonton (1-0) and Mater Dei (4-3).
Sacred Heart player to watch: Holvin Figueroa leads the Lions with five home runs.
Marist player to watch: Derek Edge hit a walk-off RBI single in the win over Mater Dei.
Side note: Sacred Heart is seeking its first appearance in the state finals since 2000.
GROUP 1 STATE SEMIFINAL
Audubon (22-6) vs. Florence (14-10)
Where: College of New Jersey, Ewing Township.
Road to the state semifinal: Audubon beat LEAP (16-0), Pitman (4-3), Pennsville (4-3), and Haddon Township (3-2); Florence beat East Brunswick Tech (10-0), Highland Park (5-0), South River (16-3), and Point Pleasant Beach (4-2).
Audubon player to watch: Third baseman Keith Michalski has five home runs and 10 doubles.
Florence player to watch: Shortstop Heath Fillmyer is batting .456 with 10 doubles.
Side note: Audubon is seeking its third consecutive appearance in the state finals.
GROUP 2 STATE SEMIFINAL
Buena (24-7) vs. Raritan (16-10)
Where: Rider University, Lawrenceville.
Road to the state semifinal: Buena beat West Deptford (5-2), Cinnaminson (3-1), Sterling (6-2), and GCIT (14-5); Raritan beat Delaware Valley (1-0), Summit (9-2), Voorhees (9-4), and Robbinsville (4-2).
Buena player to watch: Righthander Justin Geri is 7-1 with a 1.84 ERA.
Raritan player to watch: Righthander Dan Gutch retired all eight batters in relief in the Central Jersey title game.
Side note: Buena runners are 57 for 64 (89.1 percent) in stolen bases.
GROUP 3 STATE SEMIFINAL
Hammonton (20-6) vs. Freehold Boro (17-12)
Where: Monmouth University, West Long Branch.
Road to the state semifinal: Hammonton beat Lacey (1-0), Oakcrest (8-6), Central (12-6), and Ocean City (6-1); Freehold Boro beat Woodbridge (5-1), Wall (4-2), Hopewell Valley (9-5), and Monmouth (3-0).
Hammonton player to watch: Righthander George Read has a 2.61 ERA.
Freehold Boro player to watch: Lefthander Mike Bolton pitched a four-hitter in the Central Jersey title game.
Side note: Hammonton has never appeared in a state final.
GROUP 4 STATE SEMIFINAL
Cherokee (23-5) vs. Manalapan (16-11)
Where: Rutgers University, Piscataway.
Road to the state semifinal: Cherokee beat Egg Harbor (10-0), Eastern (6-4), Toms River South (3-1), and Lenape (3-0); Manalapan beat Brick (4-1), Jackson (5-2), Middletown South (12-2), and Steinert (7-6).
Cherokee player to watch: Righthander Sean Kelly has a win and two saves in the tournament.
Manalapan player to watch: Third baseman Billy Moed hit a two-run home run and made a game-saving defensive play in the Central Jersey final.
Side note: Cherokee's only state-final appearance: 1985.
- Phil Anastasia
Contact Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, email@example.com, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports