Monday, May 29, 2017

MIAA Baseball Super 8 Projections: 5/29/17

Hot off its first league title in 26 years, is Belmont now on the verge of a Super 8 berth?
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

When former Lincoln-Sudbury baseball coach Kirk Fredericks first set out to make the Super Eight tournament, he had one goal in mind – increase interest in high school baseball across Massachusetts.

Now, there is no question that Fredericks’ mission has been accomplished.

After a regular season that has seen a bevy of twists and turns, rain outs, and unforgettable performances, it is officially time for selection Monday.

Tonight at 6 pm, the nine members of the MIAA Division 1A “Super Eight” committee will gather in Franklin to determine who the top eight teams are in Massachusetts.

It will surely be a tough decision, with a number of teams making their case over the final handful of weeks, either by finishing with a sterling record, or making their name known through playing a difficult schedule.

So, without a further ado, SuiteSports is proud to unveil its fourth and final Super Eight projection. Make sure to check back later on tonight when we will have full reaction from the meeting and a breakdown of the eight teams selected.

Locks (3)

1. St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Record: 19-3

Key Wins: BC High (3-2, 12-1), Wachusett (11-3, 6-4), Pope Francis (11-0), St. John’s Prep (3-2), Lincoln-Sudbury (17-0), Leominster (9-2)

Key Losses: Nashoba (6-5, 8 innings), Xaverian (1-0, 9 innings), St. John’s Prep (4-1)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 3-2

Record vs. Division 1: 19-3

St. John's (Shrewsbury) lost to St. John’s Prep to close out the season, but the Pioneers are still the clear number one team based on their overall body of work. They went 19-3 against 22 Division 1 teams, went 3-2 against the Catholic Conference, and acquired at least one win over St. John’s Prep and BC High.

Led by Ian Seymour, Sean Burke, Nick McDonald, Matt Stansky, and Jack Garder, the Pioneers have the pitching and the offensive firepower to go a long way.

2. St. John’s Prep

Record: 15-5

Key wins: BC High (4-0), Xaverian (5-4), Malden Catholic (7-2), Walpole (4-0), Newton North (7-5), St. John’s Shrewsbury (4-1)

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: 12-5

St. John’s Prep solidified their position as the number two seed with a 4-1 road win over St. John’s (Shrewsbury) on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles have not been their usual dominant selves, but they have still come up with key wins whenever they have needed them, as shown by their season sweep of Xaverian and non-league win over Newton North.

A lot of pressure will rest on the arms of Casey Bussone and Zach Begin if St. John’s Prep hopes to make a deep tournament run.

3. Central Catholic 

Record: 15-4

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: 1-0

Record vs. Division 1: 12-2

Central Catholic clinched the Merrimack Valley Conference title with a 1-0 win over Lawrence, and added a 4-3 win over Catholic Memorial on Sunday to all but secure a top four spot. The Raiders are loaded at the front end of their rotation, highlighted by Steve Hajjar and Sam Lara. Combine that with Dominic Keegan’s presence behind the dish and Central Catholic is sure to be no easy out.

Probable (3)

4. Braintree

Record: 14-6

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), Hingham (5-1)

In past years, most the top-six seeds in the Super Eight field were easy to identify, but this year is quite different. Anywhere from the four to the eight spot is, essentially, up for grabs.

Braintree lost to Hingham 5-1 to close the season, but based on their entire body of work, strength of schedule, non-league wins and the fact that they are the two-time defending champions, I am going with the Wamps here.

They have done what they needed to do from a resume standpoint, beating BC High and Peabody non-league, while knocking off Walpole and splitting with Newton North in the league.

5. BC High

Record: 12-8

Key wins: St. John’s Prep (2-1), Xaverian (3-2, 2-0), Malden Catholic (2-0), Lexington (11-0), Lincoln-Sudbury (4-2), Silver Lake (8-4), Newton North (1-0, 8 innings)

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, 15-1)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 6-2

Record vs. Division 1: 12-7

The field becomes even more difficult now to predict with a bevy of Division 2 teams, high loss teams, and Merrimack Valley Conference squads up for discussion. That being said, I am going with BC High in the five spot. In most years an eight loss Eagles’ squad would probably be fighting just to get one of the last two spots, but this year BC High has bolstered their chances by winning the Catholic Conference and getting key wins over Lexington and St. John’s Prep.

What helps the Eagles out the most, however, is they are 3-0 against other teams on the bubble, sweeping Xaverian and knocking off Newton North.

6. Belmont

Record: 17-3

Key Wins: Wilmington (1-0), Lexington (11-7), Reading (6-4), Lynnfield (5-2)

Key Losses: Reading (2-1), Lexington (9-0), Arlington (3-0)

Belmont earned their right to be in the discussion when they defeated Reading for the Middlesex League Liberty Division Title, and just solidified their case by knocking off Lynnfield to finish the season.

They do only have one Division 1 win this season – an 11-7 win over Lexington – but there is no question the Marauders have the arms and the defense to belong in this tournament.

Last Two In (2)

7. Andover

Record: 15-5

Key Wins: Central Catholic (1-0), Lowell (5-0), North Andover (1-0), Methuen (4-3), Peabody (4-2)

Key Losses: Central Catholic (5-3), Haverhill (3-2, 6-4), Methuen (5-0)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 0-0

Record vs. Division 1: 10-4

One of the key aspects and criteria for being a Super Eight team, according to the committee, is finishing strong. Over the last week, that is exactly what the Golden Warriors have done.

After sweeping a double header against Bishop Guertin and Peabody on Saturday evening, the Golden Warriors came back one day later and knocked off Bishop Fenwick to win their final four games. They have proven that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone on the mound, with five different guys tossing a shutout this year. Most importantly, Andover holds a card that their other Merrimack Valley Conference counterparts in the conversation do not – a win over Central Catholic.

8. Xaverian

Record: 13-7

Key Wins: St. John’s Shrewsbury (1-0, 9 innings), Newton North (3-2), Malden Catholic (1-0)

Key Losses: BC High (3-2, 2-0), St. John’s Prep (5-4, 2-1), Malden Catholic (1-0), Walpole (2-0), Peabody (7-2)

Record vs. Catholic Conference: 3-5

Record vs. Division 1: 12-7

This last spot could go to a number of teams, with Bay State Conference champion Newton North, Methuen, and Lynn Classical all in the mix. We are going to give it to the Hawks, however, due to their six -game winning streak to close the season, and their wins over St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and the aforementioned Tigers. However, Xaverian did go 3-5 in its own conference, and won just two games against teams in the conversation.

It will sure make for an interesting Monday night.


Newton North (14-8)

Methuen (17-5)

Lynn Classical (19-1)

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