<
>

Super 8 baseball tournament projection, Version 1.0

5/5/2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: Each Monday throughout the month of May, leading up to May 26's official selection for the MIAA Division 1A "Super 8" Tournament, editor Brendan C. Hall will release his latest projection for the eight-team field. This is the first in our series.

Perhaps nothing speaks to the parity of this year's high school baseball scene in Massachusetts than the first Super 8 "Watch List" put out by the MIAA over the weekend, in which nearly three-dozen teams were told by the selection committee they were being considered. With those 35 teams plus a few omissions that could enter the field over the next few weeks (Malden Catholic, Bishop Feehan, Holy Name, Chicopee), picking eight will be a daunting task -- though at this point, Bridgewater-Raynham and St. John's Prep appear to be locks.

As of Sunday, here is my projection for the eight-team field:

1. BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM

Record: 11-0

District: Division 1 South

Key Wins: Lincoln-Sudbury (12-4), Silver Lake (10-0), Marshfield (4-0, 21-1), Acton-Boxborough (6-3), New Bedford (4-1, 13-3)

Key Losses: None

Key Games to Watch: At Hingham (May 10), Dartmouth (May 15), Hingham (May 17), at Barnstable (May 22)

Players to Watch: Sr. C Joe Freiday, Jr. RHP Jack Connolly, Jr. RHP/INF Andrew Noviello, Sr. OF Corey Dinunno, Sr. 2B Connor Sullivan, Sr. OF Tyler Carey

Outlook: You might have to go back to the Jeff Allison era at Peabody in the early 2000’s to find the last time a public school had this deep a gathering of high-major talent. Connolly (4-0, 33 K, 23 IP, 0.00 ERA) and Noviello (3-0, 29 K, 20 IP, 1.05 ERA; .485/.537/.879, 16 RBI, 2 HR) anchor the best 1-2 punch in the state, while Freiday (.484/.590/.935, 19 RBI, 4 HR) is the early front-runner for ESPN Boston’s coveted Mr. Baseball award. As long as they stay the course, the defending Division 1 state champions should be the unanimous choice as top seed.

2. ST. JOHN'S PREP

Record: 10-1

District: Division 1 North

Key Wins: BC High (8-0), St. John’s of Shrewsbury (6-4, 9 inn.), Catholic Memorial (4-1)

Key Losses: Peabody (3-0)

Key Games to Watch: Xaverian (May 5), Catholic Memorial (May 7), Malden Catholic (May 12), at St. John's of Shrewsbury (May 13), at Gloucester (May 16), at Malden Catholic (May 17), at BC High (May 20), at Danvers (May 24)

Players to Watch: Jr. OF Keith Leavitt, Jr. LHP Justin Snyder, Sr. RHP Evan Roberts, Jr. OF Nick Latham, Sr. SS Max Burt, Sr. 3B Ted McNamara

Outlook: The Eagles are young, but they are talented – and even show a little bit of spunk, rallying to beat St. John’s of Shrewsbury on a walk-off homer in nine innings on Thursday. The Catholic Conference winner should be guaranteed a spot in the Super 8; and with a two-game lead over BC High currently, Prep can assure themselves a seat at the table by winning the state’s toughest league outright.

3. NEWTON NORTH

Record: 9-0

District: Division 1 North

Key Wins: Braintree (2-1, 9 inn.), Xaverian (7-1), Catholic Memorial (4-0)

Key Losses: None

Key Games to Watch: Braintree (May 7), at Walpole (May 9), BC High (May 16), Waltham (May 23)

Players to Watch: Jr. OF Ben Porter, Sr. C Alex Joyce, Jr. OF Tom Joyce, Sr. 2B John Little, Jr. RHP Theo Resnick, Sr. LHP Teddy Rodliff, Sr. RHP Dylan Sbordone, Sr. 1B Kevin Alexy

Outlook: Tigers haven’t gotten on the field much this first half, due to weather, but when they have been on they have been impressive -– especially on the defensive side, where they only allowed five runs through their first eight games. They’ll need to run scot-free through the Bay State Carey a second time to ensure a spot here, but a rematch with Braintree could hamper those plans.

4. PEABODY

Record: 10-2

District: Division 1 North

Key Wins: St. John’s Prep (3-0), Malden Catholic (6-2), Beverly (7-0), Lynn English (8-1)

Key Losses: Gloucester (2-1, 13 inn.), Danvers (5-2)

Key Games to Watch: at Bishop Guertin (N.H.) (May 10), Lynn English (May 12), Xaverian (May 17), at Beverly (May 19), Westford Academy (May 25)

Players to Watch: Sr. RHP Andrew McLaughlin, Jr. OF Matt Correale, Jr. 2B Christian Morales, Jr. OF Michael Petrosino, Sr. OF Sean McGrath, Jr. IF David Hoar

Outlook: The Tanners’ biggest obstacle might be their perception, as critics question their league’s strength, their rotation’s depth, and staff ace McLaughlin’s health -– his 12-K effort in Friday’s win over MC was his first start since missing a rotation turn with shoulder issues. But you cannot deny the facts, and the more that Prep and upstart Gloucester continue to win, the stronger their resume looks. A visit from Xaverian on May 17 is sandwiched in between another turn in the Northeastern Conference. If they do everything they’re supposed to, they’re in.

5. ST. JOHN'S (SHREWSBURY)

Record: 9-3

District: Division 1 Central

Key Wins: Leominster (1-0), Algonquin (5-4), Holy Name (12-0), New Bedford (8-6)

Key Losses: St. Peter-Marian (4-2, 9 inn.), BC High (4-3, 8 inn.), St. John’s Prep (6-4, 9 inn.)

Key Games to Watch: at St. Peter-Marian (May 6), BC High (May 9), St. John's Prep (May 13), New Bedford (May 14), Xaverian (May 20), at Shrewsbury (May 22), at Wachusett (May 24)

Players to Watch: Sr. LHP/OF P.J. Browne, Jr. RHP Shane Combs, Sr. LHP Steve D’Agostino, Sr. C Scott Manea, Jr. OF Kevin Quinlivan, Jr. 3B Charlie McDonald, Soph. SS Jake Rosen

Outlook: The Pioneers get the benefit of the doubt for their strength of schedule, and the fact all of their losses are to Catholic powers in extra innings. But with rematches against St. Peter-Marian, St. John’s Prep and BC High all on the horizon, they need to take at least two of three, then win out the rest of their schedule, to assure a seat at the table. Otherwise, this spot could very well become the property of their archrival SPM.

6. BRAINTREE

Record: 8-1

District: Division 1 South

Key Wins: Quincy (17-1), Wellesley (10-0), Middleborough (8-3), Marshfield (7-0)

Key Losses: Newton North (2-1, 9 inn.)

Key Games Left: at Walpole (May 5), at Newton North (May 7), BC High (May 17)

Players to Watch: Sr. OF Matt Bickford, Jr. 3B Connor Columbus, Jr. RHP Bobby McNiff, Jr. OF Colin Rios, Sr. C Gino La Rossa, Sr. 1B Dylan Casserly, Jr. DH Cal Berman, Sr. OF Billy Keane

Outlook: Critics will point to a schedule that hasn't tested the Wamps much yet, but they have played as best they can with the hand they've been dealt. With two important battles this week in their conference, plus a highly-anticipated visit from border rival BC High next week, the Wamps are in a similar situation to Newton North -- they'll have to run through the Bay State Conference unscathed, to ensure a spot here.

7. WESTFIELD

Record: 9-4

District: Division 1 West

Key Wins: West Springfield (11-4), Agawam (13-1), Amherst (4-0), East Longmeadow (4-3)

Key Losses: Springfield Cathedral (3-0), Minnechaug (16-2), Ludlow (2-1)

Key Games to Watch: Springfield Cathedral (May 13), Amherst (May 16), Agawam (May 19), East Longmeadow (May 22)

Players to Watch: Jr. 3B Chris Sullivan, Sr. OF Jake Toomey, Sr. 1B/RHP Brent Houle, Sr. RHP Matt Irzyk, Sr. OF Chris Riga

Outlook: The thinking here is at least one Western Mass team should qualify, with so much parity across the state historically, and right now the defending D1 West champs look like the top dog after doubling up West Side on Friday. But with all of the contenders out west beating up on each other, expect this spot to fluctuate frequently between Springfield Cathedral, West Springfield, and the aforementioned Bombers. Case in point: Early Friday afternoon, when I shot this video giving my midseason Super 8 picks, I had West Side in this spot.

8. MASCONOMET

Record: 11-0

District: Division 2 North

Key Wins: Beverly (15-1), North Reading (3-0)

Key Losses: None

Key Games to Watch: at Pentucket (May 10), Newburyport (May 15), North Reading (May 17)

Players to Watch: Sr. RHP/2B Will Twiss, Sr. RHP/1B Joe Klingensmith, Jr. OF Greg Dougherty, Sr. SS Dan Dempsey, Sr. C Mike Manni, Soph. OF Elias Verinos, Jr. RHP Ethan Dyer, Sr. OF Tommy Budrewicz,

Outlook: A Division 2 team in the inaugural Division 1A Tournament? It’s a real possibility. The Chieftains are a legitimate power this season, led by UMass-bound arms Twiss and Klingensmith anchoring the rotation. Through their first 10 games, they had outscored their opposition 107-20. That has to account for something. If there is an Achilles heel for the Chieftains, it is their schedule, with little competition in or outside the Cape Ann League.