<
>

Baseball Bracket Breakdown: West

5/30/2013

DIVISION 1

Favorites: East Longmeadow (17-3), Agawam (15-5), Amherst (15-5)

Dark horses: Central (12-8), Chicopee (12-8), Westfield (11-9)

Overview: Year in and year out, regardless of records, the Division I tournament in Western Mass. is a free-for-all. The top seed rarely wins and weather does a good job of wreaking havoc on the tournament committee as well as pitching staffs. The deepest bullpens typically reach the title game and this year, the team with the best pitching staff very well may be East Longmeadow, which enters with the region’s top staff. As much as the Spartans may be the favorite, it wouldn’t surprise any WMass baseball insider to see any team in the field come away with the title. Defending champion Westfield has shown an ability to execute in any situation, Cathedral and Amherst have key wins over Westfield and East Longmeadow. And Agawam, which took the top seed over East Longmeadow, has beaten Cathedral, Amherst and Westfield already this season. The best player in the field, Isan Diaz, may be enough to move a much-improved Central team deep into the bracket. Potential quarterfinal matchups between Cathedral and Central, East Longmeadow and Westfield and Amherst and Chicopee are heavyweight bouts.

The Pick: East Longmeadow over Amherst; Agawam over Central; East Longmeadow over Agawam in final

***

DIVISION 2

Favorites: Monument Mountain (15-5), Mount Greylock (16-3), Palmer (14-6)

Dark horses: Greenfield (16-4), South Hadley (6-14)

Overview: With the fewest amount of tournament teams, the Division 2 tournament typically gets the underrated treatment. But at the top of the bracket this year, are two teams that seem to be on a collision course --- Monument Mountain and Mount Greylock. But the two top seeds will have some company with them. No. 5 Greenfield won its first eight games and enter the tournament with the best 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation of any team in the field behind Mike Duclos and Garrett Hudson. Palmer, the No. 3 seed, offers the deepest rotation in the tournament with three quality starters in Jake Graveline, Joe Roberts and Tim Siddle, along with a steady bullpen. Defending state champion South Hadley enters the postseason with just six wins but brings a season’s worth of experience against Division 1 teams into the tournament.

The Pick: Palmer over Mount Greylock; Monument Mountain over Greenfield; Palmer over Monument Mountain in final.

***

DIVISION 3

Favorites: Monson (14-4), Frontier (14-6)

Darkhorses: St. Mary’s of Westfield (18-2), Smith Academy (17-3), Sabis (14-6)

Overview: The top three seeds in the field, Monson, St. Joseph’s of Pittsfield and Frontier earned their spots on account of their experience and success against teams from other divisions. Monson recently beat Div. 2 contender Palmer while Frontier knocked off Greenfield, another contender in the D-2 field. But for as small as their schools are, St. Mary’s and Smith Academy sure do pack a punch. St. Mary’s of Westfield is fueled by arguably the best player in Western Mass. regardless of division, Noah Parker. Smith Academy boasts perhaps the best pitcher in Western Mass. regardless of division in David Longstreeth. Additionally, this field is as deep as ever with 16 teams, including nine teams that won at least 12 games.

The Pick: Smith Academy over Monson; Frontier over St. Joe’s; Frontier over Smith Academy in final.