Monday, May 15, 2017

MIAA Baseball Super 8 Projections: 5/15/17

Maryland commit and St. John's (Shrewsbury) star Sean Burke.  Photo courtesy of @smburkey3
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

In exactly two weeks, the MIAA Division 1A “Super Eight” committee will gather at  MIAA headquarters in Franklin to vote on who the best eight high school baseball teams in Massachusetts are.

Despite the overall uncooperative weather this spring, the Super Eight picture has slowly started to take shape, with many teams starting to make their case as the regular season begins to slowly wind down. So, without a further ado, SuiteSports is excited to unveil its first Super Eight Projection, which we will be updated every Monday until selection day on May 29th (so, basically just next Monday).

Here is how we see the Super Eight field shaping up at this time. For our complete MIAA baseball Top 25, click here.

In Good Shape (3)

1. St. John's Shrewsbury

Record: 11-2

Key Wins: BC High (3-2), Wachusett (11-3), Pope Francis (11-0)

Key Losses: Nashoba (6-5, 8 innings), Xaverian (1-0, 9 innings)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 1-1

Record vs. Division 1: 9-2

Overview: Outside of a 1-0 hiccup in nine innings at Xaverian and a 6-5 loss to Nashoba, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) has clearly been the best team in Massachusetts to date. The Pioneers have a top of the line rotation led by ace Ian Seymour, with a multitude of other guys who can go multiple innings now that sophomore Nick McDonald has stepped up. They also have a potent lineup that includes catcher Jack Gardner and first baseman Sean Burke. As long as the Pioneers can at least split with St. John’s Prep and take care of business in their other non-league games, they should be in good shape to grab one of the top two spots.

2. Central Catholic

Record: 12-2

Key wins: Lowell (3-2, 3-2), Methuen (6-4), North Andover (3-0)

Key Losses: Dracut (7-4), Austin Prep (7-5)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 8-0

Overview: Central Catholic’s starting staff has continued to excel over the last couple of weeks, failing to give up more than three runs over their last six games. Sam Lara and Steve Hajjar lead the rotation, while Dominic Keegan provides steadiness and offensive firepower from behind the plate. The Raiders have taken care of business in their league to date, defeating Lowell twice as well as North Andover. A Monday night test against Methuen gives the Raiders a chance to pad an already solid resume.

3. St. John’s Prep

Record: 10-4

Key wins: BC High (4-0), Xaverian (5-4), Malden Catholic (7-2), Walpole (4-0)

Key Losses: Peabody (5-1), Catholic Memorial (11-8), Malden Catholic (5-3), BC
High (2-1)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 5-3

Record vs. Division 1: 9-4

Overview: Forgive the Eagles for losing three consecutive games, considering all three were within their own conference, two were on the road, and they all came just after losing star infielder Mike Yarin for the season. The Prep has proven once again this season that their lineup is a force to be reckoned with, averaging over seven runs a game in non-league contests. Dan Frey and Andrew Selima pace the aforementioned Eagles’ lineup, while Casey Bussone and Zach Begin spearhead the rotation. A split against St. John’s (Shrewsbury) would go a long way to securing a top four spot.

Some Work to Do (3)

4. Methuen

Record: 12-2

Key Wins: Leominster (8-4), Andover (5-0), North Andover (5-1), Lowell (6-1)

Key Losses: Central Catholic (6-4), Andover (4-3)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 7-2

Overview: Methuen has surged both in the Merrimack Valley Conference as well as the rankings thanks to six consecutive wins including over Lowell and North Andover, coupled with a win over Central Massachusetts power Leominster earlier in the season. First year coach Bill Blackwell has overseen a Rangers’ pitching staff that has given up one run or less in five of their last six games. Brandon O’Shea and Jordan Perdomo headline the rotation that can go up against anyone in a nine-inning tournament. The Rangers still have two big league games against Central Catholic and a road game at Lowell, before rounding out their schedule against Nashoba to prove that they belong in the field.

5. Lynn Classical

Record: 14-0

Key wins: Peabody (5-3), Danvers (1-0)

Key Losses: None

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 4-0

Overview: What a season it has been for Lynn Classical to date. Owners of 14 straight wins to start the season, the Rams have been dominant in nearly every aspect of the game. They have shown the ability to score runs when necessary, putting up double digits four times so far on the season. Their pitching, however, has also been steady, with that never being more evident than A.J. Luciano’s complete game shutdown this past Wednesday against Danvers. In addition, the Rams also hold a key win over league rival Peabody and another over Beverly. If Lynn Classical is able to survive a test at Reading on May 19th, it would be almost impossible to keep them out.

6. Braintree

Record: 11-4

Key Wins: BC High (7-2), Brookline (4-1), Newton North (3-1), Mansfield (10-4)

Key Losses: Brookline (6-4), Framingham (2-1), Needham (3-0), Weymouth (4-1)

Record vs Catholic Conference: 1-0

Record vs Division 1: 10-4

Overview: Braintree once again showed this past weekend why they are the two-time defending Super Eight champions. With their backs up against the wall and on the verge of falling out of the conversation, the Wamps reeled off consecutive wins against Bay State Conference rival Newton North and Peabody. Jack Andrews has emerged a solid number two starter to coincide with Kyle Gray, while Alex Kennedy and his over .400 batting average paces the lineup.

Braintree still likely needs to prove its worth in a second contest against Newton North, as well as one versus Walpole if they hope to secure a spot in the field.

Last Two In

7. BC High

Record: 8-6

Key Wins: St. John’s Prep (2-1), Xaverian (3-2, 2-0), Malden Cathoilc (2-0), Wachusett (4-0), Lexington (11-0)

Key Losses: Malden Catholic (2-1), St. John’s Shrewsbury (3-2), Lowell (7-3, 9 innings), St. John’s Prep (4-0), Braintree (7-2)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 6-2

Record vs. Division 1: 8-5

Overview: BC High receives the seven spot in our projected field currently due to them holding a Catholic Conference title, a solid rotation highlighted by a 5-0 Mike Vasil, and a terrific strength of schedule. After holding a 4-5 record to begin the season, the Eagles rattled off four straight wins, including one over rival St. John’s Prep to claim the conference championship before falling to Malden Catholic this past Wednesday.

Still, the Eagles have a long way to go if they hope to appear in the Super Eight for a third consecutive season. At worst, a 4-2 record against the likes of Lincoln-Sudbury, Chelmsford, Newton North, Acton-Boxboro, Silver Lake, and St. John’s (Shrewsbury) the rest of the way is a must.

8. Taconic

Record: 12-0

Key Wins: St.John Paul II (8-2), Nasuet (8-2), Mount Greylock (8-1)

Key Losses: None

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 5-0

Overview: Pope Francis made history last year becoming the first team from Western Massachusetts to be selected to the Super Eight, and now Taconic is hoping to follow suit. The Braves have won 12 straight to start the season and have shown a willingness to test the waters in Eastern Massachusetts, knocking off Division 4 power St. John Paul II as well as Nauset. Out west, meanwhile, the Braves have dominated the competition, defeating their opponents by a combined score of 108-12. Questions do linger, however, about their respective strength of schedule.

Upcoming contests against rival Pittsfield as well as Westfield could very well decide the postseason fate of the Braves.

On the bubble (6)

Malden Catholic (9-5)

Peabody (12-3)

Walpole (11-4)

Reading (10-2)

Belmont (12-2)

Danvers (11-2)

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