Sunday, May 21, 2017

MIAA Baseball Super 8 Projections: 5/21/17

Can Braintree capture another Super 8 crown?   Photo by Brendan C. Hall, via ESPN Boston.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

We are just over a week away from when the MIAA Division 1A “Super Eight” committee will gather at the MIAA headquarters in Franklin to vote on who the best eight teams are in Massachusetts. Despite the overall uncooperative weather this spring the Super Eight picture has begun to take shape, with many teams starting to make their case as the regular season begins to come to a close.

So, this morning, SuiteSports is excited to unveil its second Super Eight Projection. Check back on Thursday morning, May 25th, when we will unveil its third projection of the season.

Here is how we see the Super Eight field shaping up at this time:

In Good Shape (3)

1. St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Record: 16-2

Key Wins: BC High (3-2), Wachusett (11-3, 6-4), Pope Francis (11-0), St. John’s Prep (3-2), Lincoln-Sudbury (17-0)

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

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 2-1

Record vs. Division 1: 13-2

St. John’s (Shrewsbury) continued to prove this past week that it is clearly the team to beat in Massachusetts this year. Behind strong starting performances from Ian Seymour, Matt Stansky, and Sean Burke, the Pioneers defeated their three opponents (St. John’s Prep, Wachusett, Westboro). The three aforementioned starters, combined with sophomore Nick McDonald, creates the most lethal rotation in the Bay State, leaving little doubt as to the top team in the land.

2. St. John’s Prep

Record: 12-5

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

Key Losses: Peabody (5-1), Catholic Memorial (11-8), Malden Catholic (5-3), BC
High (2-1), St. John’s Shrewsbury (3-2)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 5-3

Record vs. Division 1: 10-5

St. John’s Prep moves into the number two spot this week, showing they can compete with the best in Massachusetts, falling 3-2 to St. John’s (Shrewsbury), while also knocking off Bay State Conference power Newton North, 7-5. The lineup continues to be the face of St. John’s Prep’s success with Dan Frey and Andrew Selima leading the way. The win against the Tigers all but guarantees a fourth straight Super Eight bid for the Eagles, who can now focus on playing for a top four spot and home-field advantage.

3. Braintree

Record: 12-5

Key Wins: BC High (7-2), Newton North (3-1), Walpole (5-3), Peabody (10-5), Mansfield (10-4), Brookline (4-1)

Key Losses: Brookline (6-4), Weymouth (4-1), Newton North (9-2), Needham (3-0), Framingham (2-1)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 1-0

Record vs. Division 1: 11-5

Braintree was able to recover from a 9-2 loss to Newton North with a key 5-3 win over Walpole on Thursday afternoon to help build on an already solid resume. The Wamps seemed to have found a quality one-two punch in the rotation in Kyle Gray and Jack Andrews while Alex Kennedy, Justin Files, and Jack O’Brien provide stability in the lineup. Their wins over BC High, Peabody, Walpole and splits with Newton North and Brookline have the two-time defending Super Eight champions in great shape to make their fourth straight appearance in the field.

Some Work to Do (3)

4. BC High

Record: 10-6

Key wins: St. John’s Prep (2-1), Xaverian (3-2, 2-0), Malden Catholic (2-0), Lexington (11-0), Lincoln-Sudbury (4-2)

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

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 6-2

Record vs. Division 1: 10-5

BC High slides into the number four spot in this week’s projection after wins over Chelmsford and Lincoln-Sudbury made it six wins in seven games for the Eagles. They have already locked up the Catholic Conference crown and possess arguably the strongest non-league strength of schedule. Mike Vasil, Brendan Mignone, and Gavin Reily pace the Eagles on the mound while Luke Murphy and Sean O’Connell lead the offense. There is no team out of all those vying for a spot that has more to gain or lose this week than BC High with tests against Super Eight hopefuls St. John’s Shrewsbury and Newton North looming to go along with a contest against Division 1 South power Silver Lake.

5. Reading

Record: 13-2

Key wins: Belmont (2-1), Lynn Classical (5-1), Lexington (2-1)

Key Losses: Arlington (6-5), Lexington (5-3)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 2-1

Reading showcased its talent this week with a statement win over Lynn Classical on Friday afternoon coupled with victories over Woburn and Winchester to move the Rockets up one slot to No. 5. The Rockets have been consistent defensively all season long while coming up with situational hits behind a solid starting staff. There is no time for the Rockets to relax following their big week, however, as a huge test looms on Thursday when they host Middlesex League rival Belmont.

6. Central Catholic 

Record: 13-4

Key Wins: Lowell (3-2, 3-2), Methuen (6-4, 6-2), North Andover (3-0), Andover (5-3)

Key Losses: Austin Prep (7-5), Andover (1-0), Lawrence (4-0), Dracut (7-4)

Record vs Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs Division 1: 10-2

Central Catholic seemed well on their way to securing a top four birth when they knocked off Methuen on Tuesday night, 6-2. Since then, however, the Raiders have lost consecutive league games first to Andover 1-0 and then to Lawrence 4-0. The Raiders are still in decent shape due to in large part to their dominant starting pitching and placement in the Merrimack Valley Conference. Still, at least two out of three wins to finish the season is necessary if Central Catholic hopes to go into “Selection Monday” feeling comfortable about their chances to crack the field.

Last Two In (2)

7. Taconic

Record: 16-0

Key Wins: Westfield (3-1), Pittsfield (9-0), Saint John Paul II (8-2)

Key Losses: None

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 6-0

The field becomes much more difficult to determine at this point with as many as five teams vying for one of these final two spots. Right now, though, we feel comfortable giving the seven seed to Taconic, who at 16-0 has proven they deserve heavy consideration. The Braves pitching staff spearheaded by Jake Flynn and Ross Omelenchuck has continued to dominate the competition out in Western Massachusetts, failing to allow more than four runs in any game this year. Strength of schedule may be an issue, but if the goal is to include the top teams from all corners of the state then Taconic certainly finds themselves in at least decent position to grab one of the final spots.

8. Lynn Classical

Record: 15-1

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

Key Losses: Reading (5-1)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 6-0

Lynn Classical clings to the eight spot after falling to Reading in a 5-1 loss on Friday afternoon but Newton North, Walpole, Methuen and Malden Catholic could all make solid cases that they belong here. The Rams hold two huge wins over Peabody and Danvers and have continued to prove they can pitch against the top teams on their schedule. There is little time to sulk over the loss to Reading as the Rams face tall tasks including the likes of North Reading that they must win if they hope to keep their Super Eight hopes alive.

On the Bubble (6)

Newton North (12-6)

Walpole (12-5)

Malden Catholic (10-6)

Methuen (14-4)

Andover (11-5)

Danvers (14-2)

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